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No. 3 Syracuse women’s lacrosse storms back, beats No. 7 Duke, 18-16

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The Orange were down seven goals after the first, but fought back hard and then held on for a great win.

Coming into Sunday, all the concern was how the Syracuse Orange women’s lacrosse team would handle the end of the game after their recent fourth quarter struggles.

Turns out, it was the beginning of the game we should have been concerned about.

Down seven goals after a disastrous first quarter, the No. 3 Syracuse women’s lacrosse team stormed back over the final 45 minutes to complete an epic comeback on No. 7 Duke, 18-16.

The day looked like it was going to be over quickly for ‘Cuse. After scoring the first goal of the game just over 30 seconds in, Duke took over. The Orange couldn’t win a draw control. They couldn’t make a stop. They couldn’t get the ball to the offense. Duke scored eight, yes EIGHT, goals in a row to take control of the game. It was the very definition of make-it, take-it lacrosse for the Blue Devils. The SU defense couldn’t find a cutter through the middle to save their lives, as every single goal scored by Duke was wide open and right in front of cage. It was 9-2 after the first quarter, and things seemed hopeless.

But credit all around on this one, to both the players and the coaching staff. They made defensive adjustments that had significant impact on turning the game around, they started evening up draw controls, and the offense started the long comeback and eventually took over to preserve the win.

Down 9-2, Syracuse outscored Duke 16-7 in the final three quarters of the game. It was an incredible comeback that proved once again how much fight and talent there is on this team. They have yet to even come close to playing a complete game. If they can get close, we may finally start seeing some really eye-popping results for this team. But in the meantime, an epic comeback win against a top-10 Duke team is pretty, pretty, pretty good.

The comeback was led by all the usual suspects on offense. After a relatively slow first half, the Meg Show took over after the break. Meaghan Tyrrell (5G, 1A) and Meg Carney (5G) each scored five goals, with Tyrrell scoring all of hers in the second half. In total, eight of the 10 second-half goals for SU were scored by the Megs. Emily Hawryschuk had a strong game with five points (2G, 3A), while Sam Swart (2G, 2A) and Emma Tyrrell (2G, 2A) had four each. Tyrrell also added another critical seven draw controls on the game to help the Orange fight back in the possession game against Maddie Jenner.

The Orange completely sleepwalked through the entire first quarter. They started well with a nice goal off the weave on the first possession, but then everything fell to pieces. Duke scored the next eight goals of the game to take a commanding lead. The formula for Duke was simple: win the draw control, score a completely uncontested goal right in front of cage. The SU draw controls and defense were disasters early on.

In the second quarter, the Orange picked up their play, evening up draw controls and doing a better job (it would’ve been tough not to) tightening up defensively. That combination allowed the ‘Cuse offense to see more of the ball, leading to four straight goals to start the quarter. The Blue Devils fought back and the teams traded goals until halftime, but a 6-3 quarter gave SU some life going into the break within striking distance at a 12-8 deficit.

The second half is when the Megs completely took over the scoring column. Emily Hawryschuk found Meaghan from behind the cage right in front for the opening goal of the half, and off the ensuing draw Sam Swart found her for her second goal in nine seconds. After Jalyn Jimerson scored a beauty of a goal on a woman-up, Meaghan found the net again on a great individual effort, using her speed to get around her defender for a goal to tie it up a 12 midway through the third.

Heading into the fourth quarter tied at 13, a beautiful trail check by Katie Goodale led to a Carney goal that put the Orange ahead in the first minute of the fourth, for the first time since 34 seconds into the game. Duke tied it up a minute later, but then the Megs combined for three straight to push ‘Cuse ahead 17-14.

It momentarily looked like we were heading for another late-game blown lead after Duke scored two in a row to bring it down to one. But a Duke shot hit the post, and then ricocheted off Kimber Hower, who was getting her first start of the season and was done no favors by her defense early on in this one. Hower scooped up the deflection, and the Orange regained possession.

After a timeout, SU perfectly played the final minute and a half as they wasted away the entire shot clock and scored a goal on a nice connection from Hawryschuk to Swart with only four seconds left on the shot clock. It was perfect execution late in the game when they needed to have it — exactly what we’ve been missing the last three games. That goal gave SU the all-important two goal lead with only 22 seconds left, and that ended up being the final margin on a crazy afternoon in the Carrier Dome.

The ladies are set to hit the road again for their next thriller when they head down to play Virginia this coming Saturday, March 12 at 12 PM on ACC Network Extra.