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Syracuse women’s lacrosse set for quarterfinal grudge match at Northwestern

The Syracuse women's lacrosse offense celebrates after scoring during their matchup against Pittsburgh on April 2.
The Syracuse women's lacrosse offense celebrates after scoring during their matchup against Pittsburgh on April 2.

In the 24-year history of Syracuse women’s lacrosse, the records set by individual players who have come through the program could nearly fill a book. The only chapter missing is a national championship.

They’ve come close—eight Final Four appearances and three national championship games—but the Orange has yet to win the big one. This year they are back on the doorstep. Thursday’s game against Northwestern puts them three wins from the title.

“We’re so excited,” first-year head coach Kayla Treanor said. “It’s a really big deal to be playing in the Elite Eight and [I’m] just really proud of the girls. They were so impressive this weekend.”

Syracuse’s road to the quarterfinals was particularly difficult. SU’s graduation in The Dome forced the team to travel to the Princeton regional despite earning the fifth overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. There, they barely survived an upset bid from unranked Fairfield in the first round before defeating No. 9 Princeton on their own home field, sending three-time national champion coach Chris Sailer into retirement.

Now the Orange is on the road to Northwestern, where the team suffered their first loss of the season. The March 1 game in Evanston, Illinois was also Treanor’s first defeat as a head coach. The Orange lost a 16-15 nailbiter to the Wildcats on an overtime goal by Northwestern’s Lauren Gilbert.

“That was a tough game for us. We didn’t play with a lot of discipline,” Treanor said. She also noted that the team was booked for a then-season high four yellow cards that evening.

But Northwestern is a particularly formidable foe. The Wildcats’ seven national titles rank second behind only Maryland, which has 14, in the history of NCAA competition.

And the two teams have a rich recent tournament history. Northwestern sent the Orange packing in the 2019 quarterfinal matchup in Evanston, when this year’s class of SU seniors were freshmen. But last season, Syracuse bumped Northwestern out in the Final Four. The two teams will now square off for the third straight tournament, with the series tied at 1-1.

“This is what we’ve been working for all season,” senior attacker Megan Carney said. “Last year we ended their season and then they beat us this year. We go back and forth a lot so I think it’s going to be a really good game.”

Syracuse is led on offense by senior Meaghan Tyrrell, who was named as one of the five finalists for the Tewaaraton Award, college lacrosse’s greatest individual honor. Tyrrell ranks fifth in the nation in goals scored with 75, including eight in the team’s two tournament games.

However, another Orange attacker has matched Tyrrell step for step of late. Freshman Olivia Adamson also has eight goals in the two tournament games, including a career-high five in the opening round against Fairfield.

“She is an amazing player and she is really stepping up,” Treanor said of Adamson. “She’s just playing with a ton of confidence and what a time to be playing [like that].”

The Orange will need every ounce of their offensive firepower to take down the Wildcats, a team whose stats mirror Syracuse’s in nearly every way. But if they do so, they will need just two more wins to finally tick off the last box on their program’s to-do list.

“We have nothing to lose at this point,” Carney said. “We want to come out strong with a lot of energy and just play Syracuse lacrosse.”

The opening draw from Northwestern’s Martin Stadium will be at 5 p.m. EST. WAER will have coverage throughout the game on Twitter and on our website following the conclusion. Tune into 88.3 FM on Friday morning to hear quotes from the players and coaches.