Syracuse women’s LAX hands Virginia first loss

SU Women’s LAX hands Virginia first loss

Syracuse only turned the ball over 11 times, compared to Virginia's 21 turnovers
Published: March 3, 2019
Syracuse Women's Lacrosse's Meghan Tyrrell (18), Mary Rahal (44) and Emily Hawryschuk (51) celebrate a goal at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, NY on March 2, 2018. Syracuse won the matchup against University of Virginia 16 to 11.
Syracuse Women's Lacrosse's Meghan Tyrrell (18), Mary Rahal (44) and Emily Hawryschuk (51) celebrate a goal against Virginia. Syracuse won the matchup 16-11.

Since playing Boston College on February 16, the Syracuse women’s lacrosse team has been on an absolute tear, winning four straight games, three of which came against ranked opponents. That includes today’s impressive defensive stand against the seventh-ranked Virginia Cavaliers in the Dome, 16-11.

Right from the opening draw, the Orange took control of the game. Virginia’s defense came out with plenty of energy, pressuring Syracuse’s offense in the hopes of inciting early turnovers. This was a fruitless effort, as the Orange remained poised in the face of such an aggressive strategy. Just over a minute into the game, Megan Carney assisted Emily Hawryschuk on her first goal of the evening, making the Cavaliers’ coaching staff think twice about overplaying on the defensive end of the field.

Though the Syracuse women scored only one more goal in the next ten minutes of the game, they hung onto their lead and thanks to the team’s defensive prowess, refused to give it up. The Cavaliers finally got on the scoreboard at the 18:56 mark but turned the ball over constantly from the start of the game up until that goal. Virginia committed five turnovers to Syracuse’s two before the Cavalier’s first goal. The Orange were able to capitalize on the success of their defense too, as Mary Rahal took advantage of one Virginia turnover by finding the back of the net on the other end of the field to put the home team up two.

Syracuse Women's Lacrosse
Syracuse's Emily Hawryschuk drives toward the goal.

Syracuse’s scoring difficulties were eventually alleviated, as the team finished the first period with ten goals scored. The visitors from Charlottesville, on the other hand, were held to only five goals when the halftime buzzer rang. This was in large part due to the turnover disparity that continued for the rest of the half. Whereas the Cavaliers gave the ball up 12 times, the Orange were much more careful, turning it over only five times.

Even though Syracuse stretched the lead out to seven by scoring two quick goals in the opening minutes of the second half, the game was far from over. With 15:22 remaining in the game, the resolve of the Orange defense was put to the test. Following an Orange foul and a free position shot that was sent wide, another Syracuse foul gave Virginia a second free position shot. This shot was also off the mark. A turnover and foul shortly after it led to yet another free position shot for the Cavaliers. While SU goalkeeper Asa Goldstock saved this shot attempt, a fourth foul gave Virginia one more free position attempt. This time, the Cavaliers backed the ball out and took their time, finally scoring with 13:40 left in the game.

The strain of having to defend shot after shot after shot could very well have turned the tide of this game, especially with so many calls in a row going against the Orange. But the Syracuse defense remained strong, as this sequence proved to their opponents that any goal they would score from that point on would be a difficult one. Considering Syracuse only let up two more goals in the game, this implication turned out to be true.

Syracuse Women's Lacrosse
Syracuse's Megan Carney hits University of Virginia's Allison Shields in the head with her stick, resulting in a penalty for the Orange.

“We played smart to finish the game,” said Syracuse head coach Gary Gait, whose team remained patient when looking to score for almost the entirety of the game.

Even as Virginia narrowed the Orange lead to three goals with 4:29 remaining in the game—again turned up the defensive pressure—Syracuse’s following possession went deep into the shot clock before Carney scored with six seconds remaining on the possession clock.

The Orange women’s lacrosse team will have a week to prepare for their next game at Maryland on Mar. 9 at noon.