ACC Thursday Night Lacrosse is legit. There's just no two ways about it. On both the men’s and women’s sides, primetime, televised lacrosse on Thursday nights needs to become a permanent thing for the ACC — because it rocks.
This particular Thursday night, however, did not rock for the No. 3 Syracuse Orange women’s lacrosse team. It was a night that started with celebration for the honoring of Syracuse’s graduate students, and ended with heartbreak on multiple fronts.
Tough battle, we play the Eagles again on Saturday at 12 PM. pic.twitter.com/jk10KAw21n— Syracuse Women's Lax (@CuseWLAX) April 23, 2021
Syracuse lost the game to No. 4 Boston College Eagles: a 14-13, absolute barn-burner of a contest between two conference rivals and two of the best teams in the country. It was fast-paced, back-and-forth, and featured a stable of highlight-reel plays.
The final 21 minutes were either tied or a one-goal game. The final 11 goals either tied it up or gave someone a one goal lead. Jenn Medjid gave BC the game-winner with 64 seconds left, and BC’s goalie, Rachel Hall, made a huge save to preserve the win in the final minute.
In short, it was a great game. And in the end, the Orange fell to the Eagles for the fifth (yuck) consecutive time, four of which have been by just one goal.
Devastatingly, however, the loss might just end up being the second worst thing to happen to the SU women on Thursday night. About seven and a half minutes into the second half, Megan Carney fell to the turf with a non-contact injury to her left knee that left her in a heap and needing assistance to get to the locker room. When she came back out with her knee heavily wrapped to watch the end of the game, she was noticeably, visibly emotional as some of her teammates came up to give her hugs and offer comfort.
Obviously, there is not yet an official diagnosis, but all the visible signs point to an injury that will end Carney’s junior season. If that is the case, this is, of course, devastating for Megan. We wish her all the best, physically and emotionally, in her recovery from whatever this injury ends up being.
From the team standpoint, this is an injury that would (if it’s what we expect) put a massive dent in their season. They have already had to replace one All-American this season, and now it looks like a second. There is still a ton of talent on this team, but when you are competing with the likes of UNC and BC, you need all hands on deck. Gary Gait and his team will keep pushing forward as hard as they can, but their hurdles keep getting higher and higher.
In a way, it’s kind of amazing the Orange kept this game as close as they did. BC won 18-of-28 draw controls (64 percent) and shot an absolutely insane 14-of-19 for the game. That’s 74 percent shooting. In a lacrosse game. With a goalie standing in the way, they still shot that well. They also put 95 percent of their shots on cage (18-of-19) to make Asa Goldstock’s game a nightmare.
But BC had 25 turnovers, 14 of which were caused by SU, to help keep things even and give the Orange a shot all night long. They did everything they could to pull this one out, but in the end BC made one or two plays more than SU to pick up the crucial victory for the sake of postseason placement in both the ACC and NCAA tournaments.
The Orange were led on the day by hat tricks from Sam Swart (3G, 1A), Emma Ward (3G, 1A), and Megan Carney (3G). Defensively, SU was led by Kerry Defliese and Ella Simkins, who each had four caused turnovers and four ground balls. Simkins also added three draw controls to complete an incredible stat line. Grace Fahey, who drew the assignment of shadowing Charlotte North, had two caused turnovers and a ground ball. Unfortunately, North had five goals, a few of them absolutely spectacular. Not Grace’s fault; North is an unstoppable force of otherworldly talents.
Syracuse opened the game by hitting the pipe on their first two shots, and their luck didn’t get much better from there, at least not at first.
BC scored the first four goals of the game. The Orange offense struggled with turnovers and didn’t get on the board until almost 14 minutes into the game when Carney fired home a shot from just inside the eight-meter arc off a feed from Emily Ehle. Carney added another just 27 seconds later on a beautiful cut across the middle of the eight, and Sam Swart found her for a fantastic across-body finish.
Carney’s goals kicked off an Orange run of four of the next five that brought SU to within one. The other two goals in the run were scored by Emma Ward, one of which came 12 seconds after a draw control from a BC goal.
Carney got her third from a free position opportunity, but it was surrounded by three BC goals that extended their lead back to 8-5. Sierra Cockerille closed the first half scoring with a wonderful individual effort, beating her defender from the right wing and pinging the near crossbar over the shoulder of Rachel Hall, bringing the Orange to within two at the break.
The second half was an incredible back-and-forth affair. Swart opened up the scoring just 34 seconds in when she curled around a nice pick from Cockerille, headed down main street, and went low to deposit a goal. North followed with an unbelievable goal as she was swarmed and tangled-up by four Orange defenders, got away, and back-hand shoveled a ball five-hole on Goldstock. She’s ridiculous. Not much you can do.
When Meaghan Tyrrell scored the next goal of the game just over nine minutes into the half, she brought the Orange within one, 9-8. The rest of the game, the score was either tied or a one-goal game. 11 more goals were scored (including Tyrrell’s) without either team getting a multiple-goal lead. Hence, the back-and-forth nature.
The second half was really just a great showcase for the sport. It had a little bit of everything, including great goals and plays from some of the best players in the country, non-stop action, a tight scoreline, and a great finish. Except for SU fans. That part was not great.
We’ve talked about Carney’s injury. Losing one of your best players this late in the season is an incredibly tough blow. At least with Hawryschuk’s injury, it was the beginning of the season, making it easier to make adjustments and establish a rotation of players on the offensive end.
Now, Gary Gait needs to figure out who is replacing Carney. Is it one of the backup attackers, or perhaps moving one of the midfielders to the frontline? Whatever happens, it’s going to be a new look on offense. Oh, and they play again in like 40 hours.
So, yeah, this puts a huge dent in national title aspirations that were already hard enough due to the existence of the UNC women’s team.
The loss of the game makes Saturday’s game hugely important to SU, who now have serious work to do in order to get a top-3 seed in the NCAA tournament, which gives you a bye and essentially guarantees you avoid presumed No. 1-seed UNC until the title game.
If they lose again on Saturday, they’ll need to do some serious work in the ACC tournament to ensure the proper seeding for the NCAA’s.
The Next Game
Syracuse will close out the regular season this Saturday at 12 PM in a rematch with Boston College. The game will be shown on ACC Network Extra.
If the Orange win, they will clinch the No. 2 seed in the ACC tournament on a goal-differential tie-breaker with BC. If they lose, they drop to the No. 3 seed.
Without Carney, the task gets a lot tougher against a great BC team. This Syracuse team has shown their toughness, and things just got tougher than they have been all season. We’ll see how much fight they’ve got in them starting on Saturday.
Let’s Go Orange!!!