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Syracuse women’s lacrosse: Step right up and take your shot

When it’s time for someone new to step-up, this team answers the bell.

Jack Wallace

Around this time last year, we were in the midst of watching Emma Tyrrell emerge as a burgeoning star for the Syracuse Orange women’s lacrosse team in the aftermath of Meg Carney’s season-ending injury.

It was part of a season-long theme of overcoming obstacles and giving younger players a chance to step up and prove themselves on the biggest stage.

It’s a theme that has, unfortunately, continued into this season. Only this year, it’s Emma who suffered the season-ending injury.

When it comes to replacing a player like Emma Tyrrell, it’s never going to come down to just one person. Emma, who was averaging 4.2 points and 5.3 draw controls per game, does so much throughout the course of a game that it was always going to be the committee approach to replacing her production as best they could.

No player has stepped up to fill that void of offensive production with more authority than true freshman Olivia Adamson. For much of the early part of the season, Olivia showed flashes of a very talented lacrosse player, but simply couldn’t get enough playing time to consistently prove herself.

Before Emma’s injury, Olivia was averaging exactly 1 point per game through the first 12 games of the season. In the eight games since, she has exploded with 3.4 points per game and six games scoring three or more points. She’s also shown elite efficiency in shooting 57 percent in that time, proving that while her future is very bright, so is her present.

Olivia hasn’t been alone in taking advantage of increased playing time, as Natalie Smith and Jenny Markey have both taken on larger roles in the midfield rotation to good effect.

Natalie was barely getting much run early on, averaging only .67 points per game with a single multi-point game before the injury. Since the injury, she’s upped that all the way to 2 points per game and six multi-point games in eight contests. Her shooting has also jumped from 25 to 40 percent since then, as well. Jenny has joined her, improving her production from .82 points per game to 1.5 since the injury.

In Olivia, Natalie, and Jenny, the team has a true freshman and two sophomores getting more important playing time than was expected and making the most of it.

The team needs have been exacerbated by the fact that, in addition to Emma’s injury, the offense is not getting what it normally does from a pair of veterans who are still playing.

Meg Carney suffered a re-aggravation of her knee injury against Temple in late March, and missed a total of five games as a result. Since then, she just hasn’t been herself out there.

Meg was averaging 3.9 points per game and shooting a fantastic 59.5 percent in her first 10 games of the season. However, in the five games she’s played since the re-aggravation, her production is down to 1.8 points per game and a shooting percentage of 35.3. That’s just not the Meg Carney we’ve seen for her whole career, and it leaves the SU offense searching for more answers.

Sam Swart is another player whose production has actually dropped over the course of the season. Interestingly, Sam was actually averaging 2.3 points per game with Emma in the lineup and just 1.5 without her. In part, that definitely speaks to Emma’s impact on the production of not just herself but her teammates, as well.

With Emma on the sideline and Meg struggling to find her usual form, the Orange offense has been in need of more players announcing themselves as worthy of an opposing defense’s attention to take some focus off Meaghan Tyrrell. Olivia has definitively answered that bell, proving herself to be one of the most dangerous threats on the team and doing so in the NCAA Tournament, of all places.

The lacrosse gods have surely been testing the SU women’s resiliency over the past two years, and they keep on proving that there is no shortage of athletes ready and willing to step up and make themselves known.

If they’re going to keep their season going past Thursday, they’re going to need even more of that energy against Northwestern.