Third-seeded Syracuse showed why they deserved the second-seed at the onset of the NCAA Tournament with a 21-13 win over second-seeded Northwestern. The Orange outpaced the nation’s best offense and flexed their ACC muscle on the class of the Big Ten. Yesterday marked the first time SU has ever beaten NU in postseason competition, the Wildcats had won all four of the previous battles.
Northwestern drew first blood just one minute into the contest, but that was the only lead the Cats would have all day long. Five minutes later Meaghan Tyrell scored her 63rd goal of the season on the woman-up opportunity, and the rout was on. SU scored nine of the next twelve goals and held NU scoreless for over 18 minutes. As a result, Syracuse held a commanding 10-4 lead at the half.
Many questioned if ‘Cuse would be able to stop what some were calling “the best offense ever.” Well the Orange defense put those questions to rest after the first 30 minutes of lacrosse. Syracuse held Northwestern to its season low for goals in any half all season.
The offense did its part in the early going as well. Could the SU offense keep up with NU’s? After the first frame, the Orange were on pace to hit the Wildcats typical 20 scores per game. Syracuse’s ten goals was the most Northwestern’s defense had allowed in any half to an opponent all season. SU then proceeded to break that benchmark in the second half.
The Wildcats were more competitive in the closing frame, but still the Orange outscored the vaunted unit 11-9. The closest this game ever got to was 15-12 after four consecutive NU goals midway through the final 30 minutes.
But like SU has done all season, a late scoring run proved to be the dagger and all but sealed Gary Gait and Company’s place in the National Championship. Syracuse closed the semi-final with a 6-1 blitz and took down Northwestern 21-13.
The 21 goal output from the SU offense marked a season high and what better time to be clicking on all levels than in the Final Four. In the attacking third, the Orange continued to spread the wealth. Five different Syracuse players recorded hat-tricks. Meaghan Tyrell is the headliner with five scores and three assists, including a 3-4 showing on free position opportunities. Sam Swart, Emma Tyrell, Emma Ward, and Jenny Markey each recorded a hatty.
Defensively, Kerry Defliese and Ella Simkins both recorded a caused turnover and combined for seven ground balls. Asa Goldstock was brilliant in the cage as well. The graduate student stopped ten shots in 60 minutes of work.
The Orange also dominated in special teams with a 19-14 advantage at the draw control circle. Defensive midfielder Ella Simkins was electric off the wing with nine draw controls. Center Katelyn Mashewske won six and midfielder Emma Tyrell secured a trio.
Syracuse hands Northwestern its one and only blemish this season. The Wildcats finished 15-1 and perhaps received some karma after a 16-11 win over the Orange in the 2019 Elite Eight.
However, the mission isn’t complete. SU faces Boston College on Sunday at noon. The fourth-seeded Eagles pulled a shocking upset over top-seeded North Carolina. BC held on for an 11-10 win over the Tar Heels snapping their 27 game win streak. Ironically, the last UNC loss came to Boston College in the 2019 Final Four.
This is a far better matchup for Syracuse than North Carolina. SU is 2-1 against BC this season including a win in the ACC Tournament semifinals about a month ago. Opening draw control is set for noon tomorrow on ESPNU, and two of our Fizz staff members (Jaron May and Brad Klein) have the call for WJPZ-FM Radio Syracuse. You can listen to the gentlemen by clicking this link.
Syracuse appears in the final game for the third time in program history and seeks its first ever national championship.