The Syracuse Orange should have been hosts for the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. Instead, a lack of hotel openings due to SU’s graduation prevented other teams from staying in Syracuse. This caused the Cuse to play both games in Princeton, New Jersey. So not only were the Orange without much of their fanbase in attendance, but they also had to face the lower-seeded Tigers on their turf in the second round.
It’s just the latest in a long list of challenges the women’s lacrosse squad has overcome.
Late rallies by Stony Brook and undefeated Loyola during the regular season? Not a problem; the defense clamped up and did just enough to hold on for wins against both Top-10 foes.
Tough losses to Northwestern and Florida? The Orange got right back on their feet and were victorious over other ranked teams (Duke and Virginia Tech) immediately afterwards.
What about losing a trio of key contributors in last year’s All-ACC Freshman Emma Ward, midfielder and two-way threat Sierra Cockerille, and draw-control specialist and team leader in assists Emma Tyrrell? Nope; a rotation of young replacements have stepped up and taken the pressure off star players like Meaghan Tyrrell and Emily Hawryschuk.
Kayla Treanor’s group stormed out of the gates at the start of the spring and has proceeded to beat the odds all season long. Even after a pair of disappointing losses to defending champs Boston College and ACC first round opponent Virginia, Syracuse’s players didn’t let the pressure get to them.
First, they survived a scare in round one with a 12-11 win over Fairfield. True freshman Olivia Adamson continued to take advantage of her extended playing time with six points. After a three-goal barrage to cut the Orange lead down to just one, they pulled off the same kind of defensive stop we’ve seen several times this year to move on.
Then, with Princeton having the de-facto home-field advantage two days later, Syracuse stood tall against one of the nation’s top netminders, Sam Fish, and took the lead for good in the 3rd Quarter. SU’s 13-9 win over Princeton involved a slow start but ended with the elder Tyrrell doing what she normally does: stealing the show. Her five goals put her at 75 on the season, fifth in the nation and second only to BC’s Charlotte North in the ACC.
Just another weekend at the office for Meaghan Tyrrell.— Syracuse Women's Lacrosse (@CuseWLAX) May 17, 2022
An unsung hero of the game was junior Kate Mashewske, who collected 13 of SU’s 17 draw controls. She’s fifth in the nation in that category and has stepped up big time with the younger Tyrrell’s absence.
The 13 draw controls for Kate Mashewske in yesterday’s win is the most for a Syracuse player in an NCAA Tournament game in program history. pic.twitter.com/grmUZF8PFw— Syracuse Women's Lacrosse (@CuseWLAX) May 16, 2022
Kimber Hower was excellent in net for both contests with a combined .545 save percentage. For reference, only eight D1 goalies in the nation have stopped over half the shots sent their way this season. Smaller sample size or not, if she can keep up that pace, then the Orange are in good hands.
Next up is one of only five teams to best SU during the regular season: Northwestern. It also happened to be the closest loss of the year, 16-15 in Overtime. To avenge that loss and get one step closer to another Championship appearance, the Cuse players will rely on each other to come through in the clutch once again.
The Orange v. Wildcats rematch is at the same place - Evanston, Illinois. The opening draw is tomorrow night at 5 on ESPNU.