The Syracuse Orange women’s lacrosse team is heading back to the Final Four after defeating the No. 7 seed James Madison Dukes, 13-7, in the JMA Wireless Dome on Thursday afternoon!
It’s SU’s ninth trip to Championship Weekend in program history, where they’ll face the winner of today’s Boston College-Notre Dame game.
CHAMPIONSHIP WEEKEND HERE WE COME!— Syracuse Women's Lacrosse (@CuseWLAX) May 18, 2023
For the 9th time in program history the Orange advance to the NCAA Tournament Semifinals. pic.twitter.com/jdC0HpgOMe
This was a different kind of game than we’ve seen ‘Cuse win almost all season. It was a defense-first, grind-it-out battle between two zones that were causing lots of disruption. So much so that the game was tied 3-3 entering the final minute of the first half, before the Orange tacked on a pair of late goals to take a 5-3 lead into the break. They then went on to outscore JMU 8-4 in the second to win the game by six.
Olivia Adamson (4G, 2A, 9DC) was perhaps the biggest hero of the day, dominating on draws with nine wins to herself and putting up six points for the offense, including four goals.
On a day when the offense was struggling, especially early, to break down JMU’s pressure zone, it was SU’s defense and draw control unit that took over the game to help guide the Orange to the win.
The defense was just outstanding in this game, holding the Dukes to 7 goals on just 21 total shots. JMU also turned the ball over 18 times, eight of which were caused turnovers by the Orange defense. They did an amazing job of shutting off passing lanes and making it difficult for them to get any kind of look on cage. At one point, they went about a quarter without even taking a shot, let alone scoring a goal.
In a personnel move that proved to be critical, Tessa Queri (3CT, 6GB) was moved down low to play one of the crease spots while Coco Vandiver (1CT, 2GB) was moved back up to her position she was playing earlier in the season. Tessa came through in a huge way, knocking down multiple passes and finishing the game with a gigantic stat line of three CTs and six GBs. Katie Goodale (1CT, 3GB, 3DC) also stood out with three GBs, one CT, and a few nice draw wins.
Delaney Sweitzer (7SV, 3GB, 1CT) had a great game in goal, continuing to see the ball and react well. She finished with 7 saves and a .500 save percentage, as well as scooping up three GBs and one CT.
The draw unit played a huge role in this game, holding a 15-9 (.625) advantage and helping to gain extra possessions for the Orange in a game where both offenses needed all the chances they could get trying to attack the zone defenses. Olivia really controlled the draws for much of the afternoon, winning nine of the 15 to herself, but also got help from her circle players when she needed it.
Another area in which the Orange dominated was hustle plays, specifically in the ground ball department, where they won the battle, 24-12. In total, seven different SU players finished the game with multiple GBs in a testament to ‘Cuse’s heart and hustle in this game.
While it wasn’t the smoothest day for the Orange offense, every other aspect of the game was elevated to help the team grab the win.
As for that offense, they were held below their standard by a very good JMU zone defense, which entered the game third in the nation allowing less than 8 goals per game. Early on in this game, they were pressuring out on the Orange offense to force them to rush what they were doing.
It worked very well, leading to turnovers, bad shots, and general rushed decision making; hence why SU only had three goals entering the final minute of the half. ‘Cuse did show good ball movement at times, especially at the beginning, but they lacked the finishing touch as JMU goalie Kat Buchanan came up with some big early saves.
The Orange didn’t end up shooting well (13-of-30, .433) and turned the ball over 15 times, but they did adjust and do a better job as the game went along. After a first half in which ‘Cuse’s “Big 4” only scored two points, they came back with nine in the second half.
Olivia led the way with six points on four goals and two assists. Emma Ward (2G, 2A), shut out in the first half, finished with four points, including a beautiful BTB assist for the second straight game. Meg Carney (3G), also shut out in the first half, finished with a hat trick and combined with Emma for an incredible BTB goal immediately following Emma’s great pass:
Sierra Cockerille (2G), Emma Tyrrell (1G, 1A), Meaghan Tyrrell (2A) and Natalie Smith (2A) all finished with two points, while Maddy Baxter (1G) had a great goal where she split a triple-team off the dodge to score.
Once again, this Syracuse team reminded us that there’s more than one way for them to win a game. Just four days after tying the school record for goals in a game with 25 against Johns Hopkins, they only reached half that mark today with 13. But the talent on this squad doesn’t just exist on offense, and today, they rode their defense to a huge win and a trip back to the Final Four.