Syracuse buzz always finds a way to circulate around football, men’s and women’s basketball, and especially this season, men’s lacrosse. While the word around the street is focused elsewhere, a certain group on campus is letting its successes do the talking.
The SU women’s lacrosse team has had one heck of a season filled with adversity and obstacles, but through it all, those successes have reigned supreme. The Orange are one of the final four teams standing for the first time in five years, and reached this spot without their best two players.
If you’re unfamiliar with Gary Gait’s squad (and yes that’s the same Gait who made an acrobatic jumping play for Syracuse Men’s Lacrosse, famously coined “Air Gait”), here’s a guide to fill you in.
The Orange entered the season with five different grade classes due to COVID-19 granting an extra year of eligibility to student athletes. This bolstered an already strong crew for SU, headlined by attacker Emily Hawryschuk (who Inside Lacrosse ranked as the second best player in men’s or women’s lacrosse). After an opening game victory, Hawryschuk tore her ACL in practice, resulting in season-ending surgery.
However, Syracuse persevered against five top-10 opponents to open the year, outscoring them 82-43. A 6-0 blistering start for number two SU was clotheslined by top ranked North Carolina, but followed up with five consecutive wins.
With everything clicking and attackers Megan Carney and Meaghan Tyrrell on the frontlines (the “Meg Show”), both ranked top five in goals per game in the conference, lightning struck twice. Carney went down with a torn ACL in the second to last game, thinning SU’s scoring arsenal. Luckily, Gait recruited well and freshman Emma Ward stepped in for Hawryschuk and filled Carney’s role too.
Ward is third on the team with 64 points, and it showed in the ACC tournament, as she propelled the second seeded Orange to the championship game with only two losses on their resume and North Carolina, riding a 24 game-win streak, in the way. SU dropped that game 9-4, but still entered the NCAA tournament as the third seed with its sights set on championship weekend.
Two wins later, that’s where Syracuse resides. Junior Meaghan Tyrrell is one of six players in the nation with over 100 points this season. Emma Ward has scored in 12 straight, and netted six in SU’s 17-11 quarterfinal win over Florida. Meaghan’s sister Emma Tyrrell has come alive in the absence of Carney, tallying 27 goals in the last eight games.
Oh and to give this team more props, its defense is fantastic. The Orange are headlined by junior Sarah Cooper and grad student Kerry Defliese, both earned All-ACC honors, first team and second team respectively. SU is one of 15 squads in the country to allow under ten goals a game. Its backstop, goalie Asa Goldstock, is top three in the conference in save percentage and goals against average.
So now that you’re caught up on the most successful team on campus, what’s the importance of highlighting them now?
The third seeded Orange take on second seed Northwestern today with a chance to advance to the national championship. Two steps away from winning it all for the first time in program history.
But the focus is undoubtedly on today and Wildcats attacker Izzy Scane. She averages over six goals a game, which leads the nation by a wide margin. That, coupled with history favoring Northwestern, with the Wildcats winning each of the last four head-to-heads in the NCAA tournament, make the task even tougher for Syracuse.
No Hawryschuk. No Carney. No banner in the rafters. A slimmer of recognition from time to time. But a team that’s paved its way to the farthest point in the postseason than any other Syracuse sport in such an unprecedented year. If that’s not enough to draw eyes and ears, then a win today should do the trick.