Syracuse women's lacrosse head coach Gary Gait entered Sunday afternoon's postgame press conference a lot lighter.
He leaned into the microphone and let out a "Phew!"
"It was nice to feel the energy of the team after that victory," he said. "We worked hard. We talked about putting effort in and working all week long."
Virginia found the back of the net four times on four shots before the Orange's Michelle Tumolo found a cutting Alyssa Murray on a give-and-go at the 4:32 mark of the first half. Murray would go onto score back-to-back goals, the first one coming on an assist from Tumolo and the second one coming on a free position attempt. The Cavaliers' Morgan Stephens score her first of three goals on the afternoon to put Virginia up 5-2 at halftime.
"I wanted to smash something, but there was nothing to smash," Gait said when asked about what he told his players during intermission. "I tried to stay calm and tell the players to look inside and challenge themselves to be better than they were."
The Orange did just that, extending its defense beyond the 12 meter and disrupting a methodical Virginia offense that found success in slowing the game down and executing the stall early on.
Freshman attacker Kayla Treanor jump started the comeback for the Orange when she took a long pass from Liz Harbeson off a restart and went straight to goal. Tumolo would find herself in the next two offensive plays, this time on an unassisted goal and then on an assist on Devon Collins' goal, which tied the game up at eight apiece with less than 14 minutes left to play in regulation.
After a Murray free position shot to give the Orange the go-ahead lead at 9-8, Stephens would answer again for the Cavaliers just two minutes later to tie the game up at nine.
Treanor, however, would take advantage of a Cavalier turnover and split two defenders to net the game winning goal at the 4:56 mark.
"Draw controls in the second half was key," Gait said. "When you're playing a team that's playing stall lacrosse and trying to hold the ball at three, four, five minutes at a time you need to have possession on ball."
Gait stressed how big of a game this was for his squad heading into a much anticipated game against the No. 2 Gators next Saturday, March 2.
"It was a huge game," he said. "Florida is going to be No. 1 in the country with Northwestern going down. We've been there and it didn't go that well for us. We have a chance to play spoiler."