Now that we’ve taken a look at the supremely talented and deep attack unit for the Syracuse Orange women’s lacrosse team, it’s time to turn our attention to their offensive cohorts in the midfield.
Projected starters (assuming health): Emma Tyrrell, Sierra Cockerille, Jenny Markey
Other candidates: Natalie Smith, Maddy Baxter, Savannah Sweitzer, Tessa Queri, McKenzie Olsen
To be honest, I struggled a little with the decision on projected starters. If they’re ready to go at the start of the season, Emma and Sierra should be locked in as starters as they were last year.
The big question becomes who replaces Sam Swart in the starting lineup, and I think the trio of juniors in Jenny Markey, Natalie Smith, and Maddy Baxter are the main candidates to jump in. I went with Jenny because she’s seemingly been at the head of that pack over their first two years in the program. But all three are really good players and would work well as starters, so you pretty much can’t go wrong.
This midfield group is defined by great talent and extensive experience. The top two lines will probably consist entirely of players who are juniors, seniors, or graduate students, rounding out an extremely veteran offense.
Emma Tyrrell — Senior, No. 24
I said this many times last year, but despite her sister being thought of as the best player on the team and possibly in the country, I felt that Emma was actually the team MVP at the time of her injury last season because of how she impacts every phase of the game.
Her injury was a massive blow to the hopes of last year’s team, and the postseason accolades reflected that. She was named First Team All-ACC and Third Team All-American, despite only playing 12 of the team’s 21 games. That tells you everything you need to know right there. There’s a very short list of players in the entire country who could play basically half the season and still garner AA honors.
She actually finished the season third on the team in points (50) and assists (20), second in draw controls (64) and free-position goals (10), and fifth in goals (30) and caused turnovers (7); all of that despite missing the final nine games.
So, yes, I think it’s safe to say that the offense, defense, and draw control units are all going to be happy to see Emma back this year.
More honors for the . Meet your @ILWomen Preseason All-Americans.— Syracuse Women's Lacrosse (@CuseWLAX) February 3, 2023
Meaghan Tyrrell - First Team
Emma Tyrrell - Second Team
Kate Mashewske - Third Team
Megan Carney - Honorable Mention
Katie Goodale - Honorable Mention
Details ➡️ https://t.co/rZzq0NX28i pic.twitter.com/YrYGcm8z1N
Sierra Cockerille — Graduate Student, No. 43
Sierra’s another midfielder coming off a season-ending injury, which she suffered just five games into the season against Northwestern. She had eight points (5G, 3A) in those games.
The last time we saw her play a full season was 2021, and she had herself a great year, finishing fifth on the team with 50 points and third on the team with 28 assists.
She’s one of the best passers on the team and, as such, plays an integral role in executing the team concept on offense. She also plays an important role, alongside Emma, as a wing on draw controls, helping to scoop up ground balls and extra possessions for the offense.
Jenny Markey — Junior, No. 55
Jenny’s coming off a solid sophomore season in which she posted good all-around stats: 21 points on 15 goals and six assists, 12 ground balls, 15 draw controls and six caused turnovers.
She’s another player who can make an impact all over the field, and she’s the one who stepped into the starting lineup following Sierra’s injury and took her spot as a wing on draws.
She also played for Team Germany at the World Championships over the summer, where she gained some valuable experience playing in the biggest lacrosse tournament in the world. She played well, too, finishing the tournament second on the team with 24 points (15G, 9A).
Natalie Smith — Junior, No. 15
In her first year as a regular contributor last year, Natalie performed very well. Just like Jenny, she put up strong all-around numbers: 24 points, 13 goals, 11 assists, 13 ground balls, 12 draw controls, and seven caused turnovers.
Her playing time increased significantly after Emma went down for the season, and with it, so did her production. She scored only eight points in the first 12 games of the season with Emma active (.67 points per game), and increased that to 16 points in the final nine games once she started playing more (1.8 points per game).
Whether she ends up starting or not in this midfield, Natalie’s an intriguing player due to her quick first step and excellent straight-line speed that allows her to get past pretty much any defender. She put that on display in the biggest of games last year when she scored a hat trick against UNC.
Maddy Baxter — Junior, No. 49
Playing on the second midfield line last year, Maddy finished the season with nine points (8G, 1A) and 12 ground balls.
She had a huge summer, playing for Team Canada in both the World Championships and the Lacrosse Sixes at the World Games. It was very valuable experience for her as she played with and against some of the best players in the world, and on a loaded Canada roster, Maddy held her own and was very productive. She finished the World Championships with 15 points on nine goals and six assists.
Savannah Sweitzer — Senior, No. 35
In her first year in the program last year after transferring with her sister over from USC, Savannah played in all 21 games and scored 14 points on 12 goals and two assists.
She appeared a lot at attack last year, but is listed as a midfielder on the roster. She’s another player who adds to the incredible experiential depth of the offensive midfield.
Tessa Queri — Graduate Student, No. 20
Coming back home to Syracuse after playing undergraduate at Harvard, Tessa was a huge part of the defensive midfield last season. She appeared in all 21 games and scooped 18 ground balls while causing 11 turnovers.
She should factor in again this season as a big part of a defense that returns most of its contributors from last year.
Two names to potentially keep in mind for the midfield rotation are two players who I talked about yesterday with the attack: Gracie Britton (No. 19) and Abigail Lagos (No. 27).
The reason I mention them here is simply how much talent is theoretically ahead of them at that position, so even though they both come from an attack background, it’s conceivable that Kayla may look for extra opportunities to get them on the field at midfield. Just something to keep in mind.
The other players listed at midfield on the roster have limited or no significant playing time so far in their college careers. McKenzie Olsen (No. 17) is one of the most intriguing. The two-time high school All-American sat out all of her freshman season due to injury, so she could be a candidate to contribute for this first time in 2023.
Sophomores Ana Horvit (No. 7), Julia Basciano (No. 9) and Caroline Rehder (No. 13), and freshmen Faith Wooters (No. 10) and Acacia Connor (No. 14) round out the midfielders on the roster.