The No. 5 Syracuse Orange women’s lacrosse team got their season off to a flying start on Saturday afternoon, coming out on top in a Top-5 showdown with the No. 4 Northwestern Wildcats, 16-15.
It was an absolute heavyweight bout of a lacrosse game, as the teams went back and forth, trading blows and giving fans a phenomenally exciting game to start the season.
Top-5 win to start the season ✅ pic.twitter.com/SIRFbLd3JY— Syracuse Women's Lacrosse (@CuseWLAX) February 11, 2023
After more than 57 minutes of lacrosse, the teams had wound themselves around to no separation between them in a 14-14 game. Kayla Treanor’s strategy at that point couldn’t have been any clearer: take your time on offense, and eventually work the ball around to one Meaghan Tyrrell, who had spent the whole game face-guarded by the NW defense, not that it mattered.
Tyrrell finished the game with eight points (2G, 6A), and she didn’t even touch the ball that much, content to let the face-guard happen and then strike when she needed to.
And in a tie game with less than three minutes to go, her team needed her to.
Taking the ball with about two and a half minutes to play, Meaghan started her dodge from the wing, which almost immediately drew a double team. Who should pop open a second later but Meaghan’s younger sister, Emma Tyrrell, who received the pass from her sister, curled around a defender, and scored to give her team a lead they would preserve for the win.
Orange back on top 15-14 thanks to Emma Tyrrell’s third of the day. pic.twitter.com/bUDlgWSJTZ— Syracuse Women's Lacrosse (@CuseWLAX) February 11, 2023
Kate Mashewske, who had a difficult day on the draw circle, came up big when she needed to the most, helping the Orange to secure the ensuing possession.
And Kayla said, why fix what isn’t broken? Again, the offense patiently worked the clock and eventually the ball around the Meag. This time, when she dodged from the wing, the double team was too late to come, and she beat her defender to score what would be the game-winning goal with 70 seconds left to play.
Northwestern’s Izzy Scane ended up scoring to make it 16-15 with just 14 seconds left, providing the drama of one final draw in a game that was destined to end in dramatic fashion.
The Orange lost that draw control, but Katie Goodale came up big as she knocked down an advancing Northwestern pass, which ‘Cuse picked up to run out the clock on a wonderful game of lacrosse.
As I mentioned, Meaghan Tyrrell led the scoring with eight points (2G, 6A), dropping dimes all game as the Wildcats unsuccessfully tried to both face-guard and double or even triple-team her. Megan Carney had a huge game, including a couple big fourth quarter goals to finish with four goals. Emma Ward reintroduced herself with authority, coming up with five points (2G, 3A) in her first game since 2021, and Emma Tyrrell scored four points (3G, 1A) and a hat trick in her first game back from injury. Olivia Adamson added three points (2G, 1A), and Maddy Baxter had a pair of goals.
The offense was a little sloppy at times and did have a few bad turnovers in transition, but for the most part they were extremely efficient with their somewhat limited possession. They finished the game 16-of-29 shooting, an outstanding .552 percentage.
Delaney Sweitzer, a surprise starter in goal, had by far her best performance in an Orange uniform. She had a tremendous game, coming up with a huge 11 saves against a loaded Northwestern offense. A handful of her saves came on free-position shots, and some others were just spectacular stops from the run of play. She did have a few bad mistakes in the clearing game, but she stood tall in between the pipes as she and the defense tried to withstand an onslaught of Wildcat possession.
Due to the struggles at the draw circle in this game, in which NW dominated to a 23-11 advantage, the defense was put under extreme pressure as the Wildcats completely dominated the possession through large portions of the game, most especially in the second half.
The defense certainly made plenty of mistakes in this game as they left players too open, committed way too many fouls (NW had 12 free-position shots), and struggled to pick up loose balls at times. But, in the end, they did enough in a very tough matchup. They forced just enough turnovers, and Sweitzer made just enough saves.
Highlights from today's thriller pic.twitter.com/HuB8NPwcYZ— Syracuse Women's Lacrosse (@CuseWLAX) February 11, 2023
This game had an interesting flow to it, as both offenses were slow to get going in a 2-2 first quarter. In the second, the Orange opened things up, taking control of the game and looking smooth with the ball in their sticks. SU held a 6-2 advantage in that quarter to take what felt like a semi-comfortable 8-4 lead into the halftime break.
Northwestern made sure to stomp out any comfortable feelings straight away in the third quarter, as they scored three goals in less than three minutes to bring the lead down to 8-7 immediately. It was a quarter they ultimately controlled in terms of possessions and the scoreboard, outscoring ‘Cuse 6-3 in the quarter and heading to the final frame with SU holding a narrow, 11-10 lead.
The fourth quarter was where the two heavyweights started to trade blows, going back and forth and matching each other all quarter long. In the end, a 5-5 frame was enough for the Orange to hold on for a very impressive game one win.
Wow. Deep breaths, Syracuse women’s lacrosse fans. We’re only just getting started.
The ladies will be back in action in less than a week, on Friday, February 17, when No. 2 Maryland comes to the Dome at 3 PM on ACC Network Extra.