It’s certainly no secret that the Syracuse Orange women’s lacrosse team has their work cut out for them in 2024 as they attempt to replace a pair of all-time greats in program-leading scorer Meaghan Tyrrell and Meg Carney.
Add in the departures of important pieces in Sierra Cockerille and Tessa Queri, and that’s a huge void left behind in the JMA Dome. 224 points worth of a void, to be exact, or 42.4 percent of the team’s overall production last season.
We know that the Orange do have a ton of talent returning to help ease the losses with the likes of Emma Tyrrell, Emma Ward and Olivia Adamson back to lead the way, but we also know that Kayla Treanor will need other players to step into larger roles to help alongside.
Some of those players we’ll see step up are names we already know like Maddy Baxter and Natalie Smith, as well as players stepping up from bench roles last season such as Gracie Britton. But we also have to consider the potential contributions of the newest members of the program.
This year, ‘Cuse has one transfer and seven freshmen entering the program. The freshman class includes three 5-stars, all ranked in the top 20 overall in the class, and one 4-star. Let’s take a moment to see who they are and who might be making an immediate impact:
- Mackenzie Rich, North Carolina — Attack, Redshirt Sophomore
- Kaci Benoit — Defense, 5 stars, No. 13 overall ranked in 2023 class
- Ashlee Volpe — Attack, 5 stars, No. 15 overall ranked in 2023 class
- Alexa Vogelman — Midfield, 5 stars, No. 18 overall ranked in 2023 class
- Carlie Desimone — Attack, 4 stars from Baldwinsville
- Ella Blesi — Midfield
- Isabel Lahah — Midfield
- Joely Caramelli — Midfield
Mackenzie Rich is the lone transfer arriving in the 315 this fall. An Upstate native from Ithaca, she spent her first two years down in Chapel Hill with the Tar Heels. After redshirting in 2022, she appeared in 10 games last season and scored 13 points on nine goals and four assists.
None of her appearances came in UNC’s two games against ‘Cuse, so I didn’t get a chance to see her play. She was listed as an attacker for Carolina last year, and with both Megs gone, she should at least have a chance to battle for some playing time with this offense.
The player who I think has the best chance to play and contribute in a meaningful way the earliest is Alexa Vogelman, the speedy midfielder from Pennsylvania. Alexa really impressed this summer when she won MVP of the HS All-American game thanks to her 4 goal performance.
She’s got a ton of speed, first-step quickness and can score in a variety of ways including off the dodge and on the run. I think her skill set and athleticism mean that she has the ability to contribute right away for the offense, and unquestionably in the transition game where she can be a one-woman clearing and transition-igniting machine.
With the departure of Sierra from the midfield, I can easily see Alexa playing an important role for this offense, especially if Kayla decides to keep Emma Tyrrell at attack this season.
Elsewhere on offense, Ashlee Volpe comes in as a 5-star, lefty attacker out of NY’s Southern Tier region. She also played in the All-American game over the summer, where I came away impressed with her vision and intelligence as a passer. Additionally, she showed an ability to create her own shot from either above or below goal-line extended.
There are plenty of people in the mix to step up and help fill the vacancies left by the Megs at attack, and I would definitely include Ashlee on that list.
Moving down to the defensive end of the field, Kaci Benoit is the primary name to watch out for. Kaci, a 5-star defender from Darien, CT, is SU’s highest-ranked player in this class at No. 13 overall. In the All-American game, I thought she showed good cover skills and athleticism both on defense and in the clearing game.
On the surface, the defense looks to be a difficult unit to break into this season given the fact that essentially every single contributor (not just starters) from last year is back in 2024. So, could Kaci’s potential playing time fall victim to a lack of available spaces in Caitlin Defliese’s zone?
It’s definitely possible, but even if she occupies a reserve role this season, a defense can never have too many available players to help rotate in and give each other breaks or contribute on the woman-down unit. I would expect Kaci to play some kind of role in helping this defense this season even if it’s a partial role.
Given the spaces available and the overall talent level of this group of newcomers, I definitely expect them to make their presence in the program known in their first year at SU. I can’t wait to see them all don the Orange for the first time this spring.