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No. 3 Syracuse Women’s Lacrosse Set to Battle No. 13 Stanford in Season Opener

Often in collegiate athletics, top-ranked teams schedule a couple of lower-tier opponents early on, particularly in the season opener, to ease their way into the regular season.

No. 3 Syracuse women’s lacrosse is apparently not in favor of that notion.

Friday, the Orange host 13th-ranked Stanford, in the first game of a schedule that could aptly be described as a gauntlet. The Orange face off against eight of the other nine teams ranked in the preseason top ten, and that’s not even counting the Cardinal, who went undefeated in the 2021 regular season before a first-round tournament loss to Denver.

“When you’re playing such an amazing opponent right away, it gets the girls really focused,” first-year head coach Kayla Treanor said. “They know the implications of this game.”

Stanford returns to play as last season’s seventh-ranked scoring offense, pouring home 16.4 goals per game. They are led by fifth-year attacker Ali Baiocco, who sits 76 points, and 25 goals shy of Cardinal all-time records. She’s joined up front by fellow fifth-year Galen Lew, who ranks seventh in program history in assists.

“I know they’re looking to make their mark on the season from game one.” Syracuse senior attacker Meaghan Tyrrell said. “Expect the unexpected, ‘cause it’s kind of the start for everyone.”

The most intriguing mystery heading into the game for the Orange is the goalkeeping position. Treanor was unwilling to commit to naming a starter in her press conference Tuesday, and with last season’s starter Asa Goldstock lost to graduation, the job was up for grabs in the off-season.

Graduate student Hannah Van Middelem saw action in six games a year ago, but she is joined on the roster by North Carolina transfer Kimber Hower and USC transfer Delaney Sweitzer. None of the three players have more than one start at the collegiate level, but Treanor is confident in the group she has in goal.

“We’re going to use the rest of this week to make our final decision,” Treanor said. “It’s a difficult decision, but it’s a great problem to have—that we have great goalies here.”

There will be nothing secretive, however, about the Orange attack, which returns graduate student Emily Hawryschuck along with Tyrrell and senior Megan Carney. The loss of Emma Ward for the season is no small matter, but Treanor is confident, that others, particularly freshman Olivia Adamson, could step up in her place.

Come Friday at 6 p.m., that attack will take to the turf at the Carrier Dome looking to outscore the Cardinal and take the first step toward history. Though 2021 was a fantastic season for the Syracuse program, it ended with a loss in the national championship game. This year’s team is already feeling the weight of the expectations to make it a step further.

“Determined,” Tyrrell said when given one word to describe her team. “We’re coming into practice every day and giving everything we have to hopefully get back to championship weekend.”