For about a quarter and a half on Wednesday night, Stony Brook was executing the perfect game plan to attack the Syracuse zone and put themselves in position to ultimately pull the upset.
And as they have done time and again this season, the Syracuse Orange women’s lacrosse team eventually put a stop to those best-laid plans by asserting authority through their overwhelming depth of talent.
The result was a 16-11 Syracuse win over the No. 6 Stony Brook Seawolves that improved ‘Cuse’s best start ever to 10-0 and earned them their sixth win over a Top-15 team and fourth win against a Top-10 team.
Through a first quarter that ended 5-5 and felt like it included an entire game’s worth of action, it felt like we were strapping in for a high-octane game of lacrosse that was going to go down to the wire. We did get a ton of excitement and action in this game, but the Orange did what they always do to make sure the ‘down to the wire’ part didn’t happen.
Stony Brook’s final lead came on a goal with just under 6 minutes left in the second quarter that put the Seawolves up, 8-7. From there, ‘Cuse made sure that a first half that had, to that point, been dictated by Stony Brook ended with a flourish for the home team. SU scored the final four goals of the half to take an 11-8 lead into the break, especially impressive given how well the Seawolves had played to that point.
The ending of that quarter was the beginning of SU’s takeover of the game. It continued into the third quarter as the Orange scored six straight goals and went on a 9-1 run that completely put the game out of touch by the fourth quarter. That run took the game from an 8-7 Stony Brook lead to a 16-9 ‘Cuse lead.
A big part of that game-defining run was the SU defense, which early on got shredded by Stony Brook’s immaculate ball movement and backside cuts that gave the visitors some slam dunk goals to keep the Orange at bay. They really spread the Orange out defensively, which allowed for a lot of wide open space in the middle of the zone.
SU eventually figured out how to adjust and better close off the middle. They put the clamps down on the Seawolves, only allowing three goals in the final 35 minutes of the game. During the second half, specifically, ‘Cuse only allowed Stony Brook to take 9 shots while simultaneously forcing 9 turnovers.
They did a wonderful job stopping Stony Brook’s star, Ellie Masera, one of the best players in the country. The Orange held her to 0 goals, 1 assist, 0-of-4 shooting, and 4 turnovers. Masera is the heartbeat of the Seawolves’ offense, and ‘Cuse shut her down. She came into the game averaging 4.67 goals and 5.5 points per game. Not last night.
Delaney Sweitzer was right in the middle of everything, as the Orange net minder made 8 saves and picked up 3 ground balls. Half of those saves came in big spots in the second half as the Seawolves were attempting to mount a comeback. Delaney helped make sure that didn’t happen. She also threw a handful of excellent clearing passes up towards or beyond midfield that started transition and, a couple of times, lead directly to goals.
from tonight’s big win! pic.twitter.com/sDx73BX52c— Syracuse Women's Lacrosse (@CuseWLAX) March 23, 2023
Meanwhile, on the other end of the field, the offense had an outstanding day against a great Stony Brook zone. It shouldn’t come as any surprise that the best passing team in the country, who practices against their own zone all the time, had a productive day against an opponent’s zone defense.
The offense displayed exceptional ball movement throughout the game, often combined with exceptional player movement into space that helped lead to some tic-tac-toe passing and finishing. The nation’s leading assist team improved on their number by assisting on 12 of their 16 goals in this game (75 percent assist rate). They also shot extremely well by going 16-of-32 (50 percent), which actually lowers their nation-leading shooting percentage.
A trio of players led the offensive charge: Emma Ward (1G, 7A), Meg Carney (6G), and Emma Tyrrell (4G, 2A). Ward was absolutely phenomenal distributing, as she has been for most of the season, and she tied her career highs in assists (7) and points (8). Her vision and passing, especially from X, was other-worldly in this game. She sees through the goal, the goalie, and the defense to find her teammates with beautiful precision. She found Meg and Emma three times each for finishes in this game.
That main trio was flanked by a quartet of players who finished with two points each: Sierra Cockerille (2G), Tessa Queri (2G), Maddy Baxter (1G, 1A), and Meaghan Tyrrell (2A). Meaghan has not quite been herself in recent games (3 straight games of 2 points), but it hasn’t mattered since the SU offense is just that good and deep.
The draw control unit had an absolutely massive game, and their success had a huge impact on helping the Orange make their run to put the game out of reach. SU dominated the draw battle, 21-10. They were even better in the second half (8-2), ensuring that any Stony Brook comeback would be difficult as they couldn’t string possessions together.
Olivia Adamson was fantastic, winning a ton of draws to herself. She won a career-high shattering 12 draws in total. She improved by leaps and bounds over how she looked in her first two games taking draws, really utilizing her strength to push the ball exactly where she wanted in helping the Orange dominate on restarts.
She also got plenty of help from her circle players. Sierra Cockerille (4 DC), Emma Tyrrell (3 DC), and Katie Goodale (2 DC) all scooped up multiple draw wins to help the Orange dictate the pace of play and take control of the game. As we suspected, Kayla’s been holding Emma back from the draw circle through the early part of the season, and decided that a tight game against a top-ranked opponent was a good time to unleash her. She was right, and it’ll be interesting to see how much Emma factors in on the circle moving forward.
Once again, we must unfortunately lament another injury situation for this program. A little less than 10 minutes into the game, Bianca Chevarie went down pursuing a loose ball. She was helped into the locker room and ultimately returned on crutches with her left knee wrapped in ice. It certainly did not look good. We’ll wait and see. In her absence, freshman Jordan Deblasio stepped in and played well.
The Orange will be back in action this weekend as their hectic March continues. They’ll be back on the road for their fifth game in 15 days in Louisville, KY to face the Louisville Cardinals on Saturday, March 25 at 12 PM on ACC Network Extra.