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Syracuse women’s lacrosse survives first round scare, beats Fairfield, 12-11

So, that fourth quarter was a thing, huh?

The Syracuse Orange women’s lacrosse team had themselves quite an adventurous Friday evening in their 12-11 first round NCAA Tournament win over the Fairfield Stags.

It wasn’t the best performance for the Orange, who were playing their first game in two weeks. They were just never able to find a rhythm in this game. They had another bad first quarter, a recent trend for this team, coupled with a disastrous fourth quarter that we’ll get to in a second.

The offense was inconsistent with their movement and really struggled to find the back of the net despite generating plenty of shots. It was a horrendous shooting day for SU, who came into the game shooting exactly 50 percent on the season, but shot 12-of-41 in this game for 29 percent. Emily Hawryschuk was 2-of-11. Meaghan Tyrrell was 3-of-7 (bad by her standard). Meg Carney was 0-of-4. Natalie Smith was 0-of-3. Olivia Adamson was the only one who had a good day, going 5-of-9. Some credit does go to the Fairfield defense and goalie Olivia Conquest, who made 12 saves, but the Orange definitely had an off-day with the shooting.

Despite the inconsistencies throughout, the Orange controlled the middle quarters of the game to take an 11-6 lead into the fourth quarter. And this is where everything went sideways.

With a five goal lead and having scored nine of the last 12 goals in the game, Kayla Treanor took Kimber Hower out of the goal and inserted Hannah Van Middelem.

On the surface, this is an extremely puzzling decision. Hower, who has struggled at times this season, was actually playing well at that point in the game. She had made seven saves while only surrendering six goals for a really strong .538 save percentage.

There are just many questions about why this move was made. The first thought would be was Hower injured? There was no mention of that on the broadcast, and the fact that she was put back in once the lead was trimmed down to 12-11 with 3:36 left in the game makes it look like she was not injured.

So, did Kayla think the game was well in-hand enough to take her starter out? A five goal lead is big but it’s certainly not big enough to make you think the game was over by that point.

The other thing is, even if it was one of those two reasons, why didn’t Kayla put Delaney Sweitzer in the game? She has been the backup all year long, and she was dressed and on the sideline.

I have yet to see any postgame comments from Kayla, so I only have speculation at this point. But at the moment, this looks like a bizarre decision; especially in the NCAA Tournament.

After Fairfield went on a 5-1 run in the fourth in which they put five shots on cage and scored all of them, Hower came back into the game. She didn’t have to make a save in the final three and a half minutes, although the Stags got a great look in transition right at the end of the game that they pushed wide for their final chance.

Olivia Adamson, whose had a strong freshman season, had her real breakout game in this one. She led the offense with a career-high five goals and six points and was consistently the most dangerous scoring threat of the game for SU.

Meaghan Tyrrell was face-guarded all game, but still managed to finish with three goals and an assist. Her third goal, coming on a free-position in the fourth quarter, proved to be the game-winner for the Orange, and was also the 300th point of her career. Meaghan becomes only the sixth player in school history to reach that mark (Katie Rowan, Kayla Treanor, Alyssa Murray, Christina Dove, Emily Hawryschuk).

The Orange will need to regroup on the off-day before coming back on Sunday for their second round game against the winner of the Princeton-UMass game. Sunday’s game will be at 12 PM on ESPN+.