For a little more than a half on Saturday down in Durham, we had ourselves a competitive, back-and-forth game of college lacrosse.
And then, the Syracuse Orange offense took control of the game, leading ‘Cuse to a 16-10 win over the No. 15 Duke Blue Devils to improve on their best start to a season in program history at 9-0 and 4-0 in the ACC.
Your return to the JMA Wireless Dome Wednesday with a 9-0 record‼️ pic.twitter.com/pugqcAoX2c— Syracuse Women's Lacrosse (@CuseWLAX) March 18, 2023
With the game tied 6-6 early in the third quarter and neither team having scored more than two in a row to that point, the Orange offense erupted for seven straight goals to put ‘Cuse up 13-6 and put the game out of reach.
The teams traded blows in an evenly played first half that saw the first nine goals of the game alternate between the two sides. SU finally broke that with a goal to take a 6-4 lead late in the half, but Duke got rid of that advantage with a pair of goals on either side of halftime to tie it back up before the big ‘Cuse surge that put an end to the drama.
A huge decision in this game came in the first minute of the third quarter after Duke scored to tie the game at 6-6. Kayla switched draw takers from Olivia Adamson to Maddy Baxter to counter Duke’s 6’2” Maddie Jenner with a little more height.
The move turned out beautifully for the Orange, as our Maddy helped slow the dominance of Duke’s Maddie and give the Syracuse offense more consistent possession opportunities. Jenner had helped Duke win 9-4 on draws against Olivia to start the game, but once Maddy came in, the draws were even the rest of the way, 8-8. The insertion of Maddy as draw taker just so happened to coincide exactly with the 7-0 run that took over the game for SU.
If I may put on my Jon Rothstein logo-guru hat for a moment:
Kayla Treanor: brilliant tactician.
Emma Tyrrell ➡️ Emma Ward ➡️ GOAL!— Syracuse Women's Lacrosse (@CuseWLAX) March 18, 2023
It took the offense a little while to settle into their rhythm. In the first half, they scored some really nice goals on some fantastic outside shooting, but the finishes were a little too few and far between. There were a handful of sloppy turnovers thrown in there that led to missed opportunities to extend the lead beyond one goal.
But boy did that change in the second half, when the movement was more crisp and purposeful, and the dodging and shooting (16-of-26, .615%) was exceptional.
The trio of Meg Carney (5G), Emma Tyrrell (3G, 2A) and Emma Ward (3G, 2A) led the surge as they all finished with five points. Carney has scored four goals or more in seven of the nine games so far this season.
I thought Emma Tyrrell especially looked outstanding, having her best performance of the season. Her dodging, specifically, was better and more dangerous than I’ve seen it all season (case in point, below). It almost looked like she turned some kind of corner on her journey back from last year’s knee injury. I’ll be curious to see how she looks moving forward.
Fancy footwork from @emmatyrrell17 pic.twitter.com/GqtNlugIvV— Syracuse Women's Lacrosse (@CuseWLAX) March 18, 2023
The offensive day was rounded out by Sierra Cockerille (2G), Meaghan Tyrrell (1G, 1A) and Natalie Smith (1G, 1A), who each finished with two points.
The defense had another strong day, coming within one minute of holding their sixth straight opponent to single-digits. The Duke offense exhibited really good ball movement throughout much of the game, and burned the Orange on a few occasions, but overall 10 goals versus a talented Blue Devil offense is a great number. And that includes a pair of woman-up goals.
They caused eight Duke turnovers, led by two each from Bianca Chevarie and Maddy Baxter. Katie Goodale had a great game, picking up another charge and playing an instrumental role on the draw circle with five big draw controls.
Delaney Sweitzer had five saves and a .333 save percentage in what was her worst statistical game of the year, but I still thought she played well. A bunch of those saves were early on when the game was tight, and two of them came on big free-position denials.
The Orange will be back in action next week when they’re back in the JMA Dome for an absolutely massive, top-5 showdown with the No. 5 Stony Brook Seawolves. The game is Wednesday, March 22 at 8 PM on ESPN U.
Primetime? TV? Let’s. Go.