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Syracuse women’s lacrosse: Orange blown away by North Carolina, 15-9, in ACC Tournament

What the heck’s going on with this team?

Boston College v Syracuse Photo by Isaiah Vazquez/Getty Images

They say that seeing is believing, but they clearly never had to see what’s been unfolding with the Syracuse Orange women’s lacrosse team over the past week.

The Orange unfortunately continued one of the strangest late-season turns I’ve ever seen as they were blown off the field by the North Carolina Tar Heels in the game’s opening 20 minutes to get themselves rudely ejected from the ACC Tournament with a 15-9 drubbing.

SU was simply never in this game. 21 seconds in, Emma Ward took a wide open shot that rung the pipe. 36 seconds in, North Carolina scored off the transition created by Ward’s shot ricocheting towards midfield. And just like that, the game was over.

The Tar Heels scored the first eight goals of the game on their first 13 shots while the Orange missed their first nine shots before Sierra Cockerille scored ‘Cuse’s first goal more than 20 minutes into the contest.

In the final 40 minutes, Syracuse actually outscored North Carolina 9-7, but it was utterly meaningless as far as the outcome was concerned. The 8-0 run to start the game was all the cushion North Carolina needed and then some.

‘Cuse’s vaunted offense looked virtually powerless for most of this game against Carolina’s admittedly stout defense. The matchup was defined by wasted dodges that went nowhere and created nothing, a complete lack of crisp ball movement, forced passes into traffic, and weak and low percentage shots that never had a chance. SU shot so poorly in this game (9-of-36) that their final percentage (25 percent) was less than half of what it normally is.

The defense was given the run-around by Carolina’s offense in this one, which is nothing new. The defense has been giving up open cutters and looks for much of this season, but there’s one huge difference in the last week and that’s the play of Delaney Sweitzer.

She has been unbelievable all season, helping to bail her defense out by making the spectacular saves part of her routine, but something has happened since the second half against Boston College and she hasn’t been the same since. She’s been a step slow on her reactions, and she’s just not seeing the ball well at all right now. The Tar Heels scored on a free position in the first quarter on a pretty weak shot off Delaney’s left hip. It was the kind of weak sauce on a free position that Delaney’s been putting in her pocket all season, but she just never saw it and it rippled the net before she even reacted. If she doesn’t get right, Syracuse’s season will end early.

Emma Ward (2G, 1A) led ‘Cuse’s scoring with three points, which is the same number of pipes she hit on the day. Meaghan Tyrrell (2G), Sierra Cockerille (1G, 1A), and Olivia Adamson (1G, 1A, 8DC) all had two points, and Emma Tyrrell (1G, 6DC), Meg Carney (1G), and Savannah Sweitzer (1G) all scored a goal.

‘Cuse has a lot to figure out if they are going to get their once promising season back on track come May. Thank goodness for the concept of time, because the Orange have a lot of it before we’ll see them on the field again.

Selection Sunday is over a week away on Sunday, May 7, and it’s going to be two weeks before Syracuse plays a game again to open the NCAA Tournament. Normally, it would be frustrating to have to wait a fortnight for another game coming off a loss, but this team is in desperate need of time to regroup and figure out how they’re going to move forward.

Let’s hope they can do it.