Syracuse women’s lacrosse gets signature win in comeback against No. 7 Duke

Cuse women's lax erases seven-goal deficit in signature win over No. 7 Duke

“It took a lot of heart”: The Orange were able to reverse the Blue Devil momentum after facing a seven-goal deficit.
Published: March 6, 2022
Women’s Lacrosse vs. Stony Brook University
Megan Carney (22), pictured here against Stony Brook, scored five goals against Duke on Sunday.

At the end of the first quarter of Sunday’s matchup in the Carrier Dome, seventh-ranked Duke was making No. 3 Syracuse women’s lacrosse look pedestrian. The Orange were facing their largest deficit of the season, and Blue Devils attacker Catriona Barry had both more goals and assists than the entire SU team combined.  

But 45 whirlwind minutes later, the Orange had somehow willed their way to a signature win against a previously unbeaten opponent. 

Graduate attacker Emily Hawryschuk scored the game’s first goal just 34 seconds into the contest. But that was the last opportunity the Orange had to celebrate for quite some time, as Duke scored eight straight over a 12-minute stretch, winning eight draws in a row in the process. Syracuse had not allowed more than four goals in a row to an opponent all season. But the quarter break proved to be a difference-maker. 

“That’s kind of the benefit of having quarters now,” senior attacker Megan Carney said, in reference to the preseason rule change that created four periods in women’s college lacrosse for the first time. “You can cut a run off and create a momentum change.” 

The second quarter saw the Orange claw their way back into the game, trimming the deficit to just four by halftime. Then senior attacker Meaghan Tyrrell came alive, a welcome sight for Orange fans. She scored all five of her goals after the intermission, including three of the four consecutive goals SU scored to tie the game midway through the third quarter. 

“We had a gameplan in place we had been practicing all week… and in the first half, it kind of wasn’t working for me personally,” Tyrrell said. “I guess [there was] a mental shift of focusing in on that.” 

The fourth quarter started with the score tied at 13. This time around, it was Carney’s turn to seize the momentum. The senior attacker scored three of her five goals in the final period, allowing the Orange to walk away with their second ACC win in as many games.  

Carney and Tyrrell led the Orange with five goals each, while Hawryschuk led the team in assists with three. Senior midfielder Sam Swart added a pair of goals and a pair of assists, including the score with 22.2 seconds remaining that sealed the win. 

Syracuse also made a strategic change heading into the game, the first major lineup decision for Kayla Treanor as a head coach. Redshirt-junior Kimber Hower, who had played just the second half of each game in goal, was given her first collegiate start. She totaled eight saves on the afternoon, including a pivotal save of a Cat Barry shot with just 1:52 to play. 

“That was a new experience for me, it was my first start ever,” said Hower, though she later corrected herself to include her high school career. “To be given this chance, I’m grateful to my teammates and my coaches for believing in me. It definitely helped me to see the first quarter, and be like, ‘there are still three quarters left.’” 

That it was Hower’s first career start seemed to be news to her teammates. 

“I didn’t think of it, this was your first start,” Tyrrell laughed. “I really had no idea, but that’s awesome. And for a first start you did pretty well!” 

Another master stroke from the Orange coaching staff came after the first quarter flurry from Duke. Treanor credited assistant Caitlin Defliese with the decision to switch to man-to-man defense, which limited to Duke to just seven goals in the game’s final three quarters. Barry had four assists against the zone the Orange ran in the first quarter and none the rest of the game. 

“Caitlin is a tremendous defensive coordinator,” Treanor said. “We were able to get a lot of stops, I think it helped Kimber see the ball a little bit better and make some more saves. The girls stepped up and were ready to play it.” 

Duke came into the matchup 6-0 and outscoring their opponents by a nation-leading 15.3 goals per game. Barry (41) and attacker Katie DeSimone (33) led the nation in total points by a wide margin. It took a special effort from the Orange to not only defeat the Blue Devils, but to do so after absorbing a blow like Duke dealt them in the first quarter. 

“I’m incredibly proud of our team,” Treanor said. “That took a lot of heart and I think it showed that they’re a really special team.” 

With the win in hand, the Orange have almost a full week to prepare for their next tilt, another ACC battle against No. 13 Virginia on Saturday. It’s Syracuse’s third road test of the year, and while they’ve gone a perfect 4-0 at home, they’re 1-1 in games outside the Carrier Dome. The Virginia game gets rolling at noon in Charlottesville.