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No. 3 Syracuse women’s lacrosse overcomes slow start to beat No. 6 Virginia, 15-12

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Syracuse authored A Tale of Two Halves to turn a slow start into a fast victory.

Stony Brook v Syracuse Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images

It had been over 13 months since Syracuse fans had gotten the chance to get loud inside Syracuse University’s “Loud House”.

Today, they got that chance.

For the first time in 405 days, members of the general public were allowed inside the Dome to watch an SU sporting event, and what a game they got.

Those in attendance witnessed the Syracuse Orange women’s lacrosse team author an incredible second-half comeback to defeat No. 6 Virginia Cavaliers, 15-12.

Down 9-5 with just over 18 minutes remaining, Syracuse closed the game on a raucous 10-3 run to pick up their sixth win of the season against a Top-10 team. That number again: six out of their eight wins this season have come against teams ranked in the Top 10. WOW.

For the Orange, it was a true test of toughness and perseverance as they came up against a remarkable performance from Virginia goalie Charlie Campbell, who had a ridiculous, career-high 18 saves in this one.

It took the Orange the majority of the game, but they were finally able to break Campbell down to grab the win. Consider this: in the first 43 minutes, SU only scored five goals. In the final 17 minutes, they scored 10. In less than half the time, they scored twice as many goals in that second half run.

The fuel for that run came from the draw control circle, where ‘Cuse won 13-of-17 in the second half after the teams split the first half draws 6-6. All that extra possession was a huge key to finally finding a way to consistently get past Campbell.

The other key was relentless pressure. SU used all the draw control wins to out-shoot Virginia 24-7 after halftime. With that, they eventually just wore down Campbell and the Wahoo defense.

Improved shooting was another catalyst that helped bring the Orange back. After shooting 23.5 percent in the first half (4-of-17), ‘Cuse turned it up to 45.8 percent in the second (11-of-24), the result of being able to get inside the Virginia defense more and get off better placed shots.

The Meaghan and Megan act was in full effect yet again in this one, as Meaghan Tyrrell’s six points (5G, 1A) and Megan Carney’s five (4G, 1A) led the way, with nine of their 11 combined points coming in the second half. Sam Swart had a hat trick and Emma Ward also had three points (1G, 2A) for the Orange.

The first half was owned by the Cavaliers, who opened the scoring just over a minute in on a free-position chance. They added a second free-position after a gorgeous goal by Ward, who fired one home against the momentum of her body into the upper-left corner.

After Meaghan Tyrrell split a double team to score and make it 3-2 Virginia, the Cavs scored four of the next five goals. That run started with a very uncharacteristic play by Asa Goldstock, who was a little too lackadaisical on a clearing attempt out near midfield. Her pass was knocked down by Morgan Schwab, who scooped it up and ran downfield for the open-net goal. That goal ignited the Virginia run, as they went on to extend their lead to 7-3. A last minute goal by Carney on a nice shot that went low made it 7-4 going into the half.

On offense, Syracuse was stifled by a combination of turnovers and bad shooting, but mostly they were simply shut down by Campbell. The Wahoo net minder had a huge first half with seven saves to slam the door on the high-powered Orange offense, at one point holding them scoreless for a 16 minute stretch before Carney got her late-half tally.

Sam Swart opened up the second half scoring four minutes in, but a pair of Virginia goals brought the lead up the it’s biggest of the day for the visitors, 9-5, as the Orange went on another scoring drought of roughly nine minutes.

With under 18 minutes remaining in the game, down by four with an on-fire goalie in the cage, the outcome was looking a little bleak for SU. But that’s when the offense hit the turbo button, kicking things into overdrive as they scored three goals in 49 seconds to make it 9-8. The goals, of course, came from Carney and Tyrrell (2) on the finishing end of great ball movement and teamwork that defines this Syracuse offense when it’s running well.

The quick spurt was big in putting the Orange in immediate striking distance, but the Cavs scored two of the next three to extend the lead back to two, 11-9.

With under eight minutes remaining in the game and still down by two, Syracuse was finally able to put together a run that put them over the top to stay. Emma Tyrrell made a great play picking the ball out of mid-air and quickly firing it in to start a 6-0 run that solidified the Syracuse win. Big-sister Meaghan scored to tie it before Megan Carney put home the game winner with 5:46 remaining.

The Takeaway

For me, this game emphasized just how powerful the Syracuse offense can be. I mean, when you think about the fact that Charlie Campbell made an absurd 18 saves in this game, and the SU offense still scored 15 goals, that’s just crazy. If Campbell doesn’t have the game of her career in this one, the Orange could have easily gotten to 20 in this one. So, yeah, this offense is extremely dangerous even if it sometimes takes them a while to get going.

Speaking of which, the slow starts continue to be a concern for coach Gary Gait. This now makes three out of the last four wins that have required a re-energized second half to secure the W. Two of those times the Orange were trailing at the break, and once it was tied. But what all three had in common is that they were sluggish starts with too many turnovers and poor shooting efforts. Today was less about that and more about Campbell’s efforts in goal, but the bottom line is that the slow starts need to stop becoming a trend, because having to make comebacks every game is a bad business strategy.

The other aspect of the game that has been troubling for much of the season is the free-position chances on both ends of the field. Syracuse gave up six to UVA today, which isn’t a huge number. However, the Cavs executed well, scoring on 4-of-6 opportunities. On the other end, the Orange, who came into the game as the worst free-position team in the ACC, didn’t score one goal on free-positions. It got so bad that the team stopped even taking shots on them in the second half, opting instead to just take it back out and run the regular offense. Taking advantage of free-position chances is a huge part of the women’s game, and there’s too much talent on this SU offense for them to struggle this much with converting those chances. That will definitely be something to keep working on in practice.

Closing with a positive, I loved the team effort on draw controls today. Five different players picked up multiple draw controls in this game. Katelyn Mashewske, who has done so well this season filling in for Emily Hawryschuk, struggled early in the game and was replaced in the second half by Braelie Kempney, who did a great job before exiting with an injury. Mashewske then came back in and found more success in helping to close the game out, but also big props to Emma Tyrrell, Ella Simkins, and Sierra Cockerille in helping scoop up ground balls to secure consistent possession for the big comeback stretch. A true team effort today on draw controls.

The Next Game

Break time is over for the Orange, who don’t go more than four days the rest of the season without a game. Hey, as good as this team is, that’s great news for the fans. The more games, the better.

The ladies will be heading east for an in-state battle with the Albany Great Danes, who are helmed by arguably the greatest player in program history, Katie Rowan. That will be a fun reunion as Katie goes up against her alma mater and coach Gait coaches against his former player.

The game is this Tuesday, April 13 at 3 PM. As of now, there’s no TV announced for that game, so it will probably be some kind of livestream situation through Albany’s athletics department.

Let’s go Orange!!!