When the Syracuse Orange women’s lacrosse team was catapulted out of the NCAA Tournament in the quarterfinals last year by the Northwestern Wildcats, we knew it was going to feel like a long offseason before this team got back on the field.
What we didn’t know, was that a chance at revenge was going to come right out of the gates in 2023 when the Orange play host to the Wildcats today in the JMA Wireless Dome at 12 PM on ACC Network Extra.
- All-time series: Northwestern, 16-7
- Last year’s games: Northwestern, 16-15 OT on March 1; Northwestern, 15-4 on May 19 in NCAA quarterfinals
- Preseason rankings: Northwestern, No. 4; Syracuse, No. 5
So, what are the top storylines that we’re looking for as SU gets their 2023 season underway:
You might have heard or, if you watched the game, you definitely remember: this is a ‘revenge game’ for the Orange, if you believe in such things.
SU actually went 0-2 against Northwestern last season, but it’s the postseason beatdown that we’re all really focused on. The Orange were operating well below full talent capacity in that game, and they simply got outclassed on the day.
It’s certainly a different story coming into this game, as ‘Cuse has had a full offseason to get players healthy, and those players will want to erase the feeling of an embarrassing, 11-goal loss to one of their fiercest opponents.
Speaking of getting those players back, this will be our first chance to see the Orange this season, meaning it will also be our first chance to see just how healthy everyone is.
The primary names we’ll be looking out for are Emma Ward, Sierra Cockerille, Emma Tyrrell and Megan Carney. The first three suffered season-ending injuries at various points throughout last preseason/regular season, and Meg was hampered by injuries all second half of the season.
All four, to the best of my knowledge, sat out for part or all of the fall season, but all four came back for the start of practice in January. The main question on everybody’s mind is, will we see all four of them in game number one? And if so, how much will each be able to go?
The answers to those questions might just play a role in determining the outcome of this one.
There is a ton of players and production back on this year’s team, but there are also a handful of new players who we anticipate will be fitting into the puzzle of veterans that this team already has established.
On offense, I’m curious to see how Kayla slots in freshman Gracie Britton and graduate transfer Abigail Lagos. Britton was a two-time high school All-American at CBA, while Lagos was last year’s DII Player of the Year in scoring 118 points at UIndy on her way to winning the DII national title.
There’s no necessarily a lot of playing time up for grabs on this loaded, veteran offense, but these two feel like players who you want to get out on the field.
Defensively, it will be easier for some fresh faces to see the field as the team looks to replace All-American Sarah Cooper. Freshmen Superia Clark, Coco Vandiver, and Jordan Deblasio feel like they all have chances to grab that fourth defender starting spot. I’m guessing it’ll be Clark to start.
We all know the goalie situation was less than ideal last season, from the short-lived two-goalie system, to the consistent inconsistency, to the overall .348 save percentage.
There needs to be an improvement between the pipes this year, or SU will find reaching there ultimate goal a very difficult task.
I’m expecting to see Kimber Hower starting in goal today, but ultimately I just hope that one goalie distinguished herself during preseason so that Kayla can choose one and go with her to start.
This Northwestern team is going to be pretty different than the one we saw last year due to them graduating a number of key players. Lauren Gilbert (points leader), Jill Girardi (draw control leader), Ally Palermo (GB and CT leader) and Madison Doucette (starting goalie) are all gone. That’s a ton of production to lose. That’s their best offensive player in Gilbert, their draw taker and one of their best offensive players in Girardi, their best defender in Palermo, and one of the best goalies in the country in Doucette.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that Izzy Scane is back after missing last season with an ACL injury. In 2021, Scane was one of the best players in the country, scoring 98 goals and setting a single-season NCAA record averaging 6.13 goals per game. She will, of course, be the biggest challenge to stop. Back in the 2021 NCAA semifinals, a game the Orange won easily, Scane was the Wildcat standout scoring seven points. The SU defense will have their hands full.
Joining Scane to form a great 1-2 punch is last year’s second-leading scorer, Erin Coykendall, who scored 82 points on 45 goals and 37 assists. The two of them together are about as tough an assignment as possible for the ‘Cuse defense right out of the gate.
Other names to watch for are Elle Hanson, last year’s fourth leading scorer with 32 points despite missing six games, Allie Berkery, one of their top defenders from last year, and Samantha White, a utility-style player who was one of their biggest forces in the draw control and ground ball games.
To replace Doucette in cage, NU hit the transfer portal and brought in Molly Laliberty, who was named the DIII Goalkeeper of the Year the last two seasons when she played for Tufts.