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Syracuse women's lacrosse advances to NCAA quarterfinals with triumph at host Princeton

 Syracuse draw specialist Kate Mashewske (8, white) secured 13 draw controls to help her team defeat Princeton Sunday in the NCAA Tournament.
Syracuse draw specialist Kate Mashewske (8, white) secured 13 draw controls to help her team defeat Princeton Sunday in the NCAA Tournament.

Coming off a near-upset in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and facing a tough Princeton team on the Tigers’ home field in round two, the fifth-seeded Syracuse women’s lacrosse team appeared primed for an upset.

But after a sluggish start resulting in an early 3-0 deficit, the Orange kicked into high gear. SU seized command of the game in all three phases, powering their way to a 13-9 victory and punching their ticket to the quarterfinals.

Syracuse (15-5, 6-2 ACC) got the job done against Princeton (15-5, 7-0 Ivy League) thanks to heroes both expected and unexpected. The offense was led by Tewaaraton Award finalist Meaghan Tyrrell with five goals, but she was backed up mostly by underclassmen.

Sophomore midfielder Jenny Markey scored two goals and added an assist, while freshman attacker Olivia Adamson picked up where she left off in the first round against Fairfield with three more goals on Sunday.

The emergence of Adamson has come as no surprise to Treanor and the rest of the Orange. In her first media availability of the spring semester at the beginning of February, Treanor singled out Adamson as the first-year most likely to see significant playing time.

Not only has that prediction come true, but Adamson has grown exponentially in stature within the Syracuse offense as the season has progressed. Though she scored goals in most of the games SU played early, Adamson did not have a hat trick through 14 career contests.

Since then, she has accomplished the feat in four of the last six games, including both of her NCAA Tournament appearances.

 Attacker Olivia Adamson (1, white) celebrates one of her three goals against the Tigers in the round of 16.
Attacker Olivia Adamson (1, white) celebrates one of her three goals against the Tigers in the round of 16.

Syracuse was strong in the draw circle, led by junior Kate Mashewske with 13 draw controls. The Orange held a commanding 17-8 advantage on the draw in this game, stifling any offensive momentum the Tigers attempted to build. With 173 on the season, Mashewske now sits 37 draw wins behind the single season record at Syracuse, set by her now-head coach, Treanor.

On the defensive side of the ball, goalkeeper Kimber Hower continued her impressive run early in the NCAA Tournament, saving eleven Princeton shots to just nine goals allowed. The .550 save percentage was Hower’s best mark out of all the games this season in which she has played more than half of the team’s minutes.

Syracuse made mistakes, too, but many of them were not seen by folks not in attendance at Class of 1952 Stadium. The ESPN+ stream did not start until seven minutes of the game were already gone, with Princeton staked to a 3-0 lead. Syracuse had seven turnovers to that point as well.

The stream cut out again for a three-minute stretch of the fourth quarter with SU leading 12-8 at the time. Because the live stats only updated at the end of each quarter, fans of both teams and neutral observers just tuning in were left in the dark for long stretches on two occasions.

When the broadcast resumed, however, viewers were able to see the Syracuse bench mob Hower as the team secured its spot in the round of eight. Three wins separate the Orange from the program’s first national title, a goal the team has had since the final whistle of last season’s 16-10 title game loss to Boston College.

With the loss, Princeton not only saw their season come to an end, but also lost the defining figure of their entire program’s history. Three-time national champion coach Chris Sailer is moving on from Princeton after this season following her 36-year tenure as the Tigers’ head coach.

Meanwhile, Kayla Treanor is moving on, despite being alive eight years fewer than Sailer spent coaching the Tigers.

The Orange will play in the quarterfinals Thursday, against the winner of fourth-seeded Northwestern and Michigan. Should the Wolverines pull off an unlikely upset, the Orange will host Michigan at the Carrier Dome. If not, Syracuse will travel to Northwestern for the second time this season, following a 16-15 overtime loss on March 1.

Whomever they play, the going only gets tougher from here. It is unlikely Syracuse will play any more teams seeded lower than themselves. Yet in taking down Princeton, the Orange proved something they have been saying, but not showing with their recent performances on the field.

The stated goal of this team has been a national championship since day one, and on Sunday, Syracuse finally looked like a team that could eventually raise the trophy.