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Two Top-10 teams with similar paths square off Tuesday afternoon

Meaghan Tyrell looks to score in Overtime vs. Notre Dame
Syracuse's Meaghan Tyrell scores the game-winner in South Bend in extra time. The attacker leads the team in scoring with 17 goals this season.

The road has been treacherous for Syracuse Women's Lacrosse so far. Up next, number six Northwestern over in Evanston. Both these teams have had their fair share of tests thus far. WAER's Jenna Elique looks at the similarities and differences.

Syracuse women’s lacrosse is in the midst of a treacherous start. Three of the four opponents have been slotted in top-25 positions with the exception of the second game of the season against Binghamton. The Orange have come out victorious in all of those contests, but it hasn’t been easy for the third-ranked SU squad.

Let’s take the last two games against number four Stony Brook and number 17 Notre Dame. In both of those matchups, SU barely escaped with a victory with two-straight one-goal scoring margins. During the contest in South Bend against the Irish, the Orange were pushed to the end with the pressure of maintaining their undefeated season in overtime.

Syracuse's Megan Carney (22) celebrates a goal against Notre Dame.
Syracuse's Megan Carney (22) celebrates a goal. The Orange narrowly won at Notre Dame in overtime with a score of 17-16.

The difficulty of the Cuse schedule only continues with its next challenger. Northwestern checked into the ILWomen/IWLCA Poll at number six. A stop it has held since dropping its season opener to the number one team in the nation and reigning national champion Boston College 18-9.

The path for these two programs to start has had its similarities and differences. The first similarity can be traced back to the most recent opponent for each team.

Number 17 Notre Dame played both of these squads extremely tight. On Saturday, the Orange were taken down to the wire and won 17-16 in extra time. That’s pretty similar to how the contest between Wildcats and Irish. The score: 17-16 with ND taking the loss.

Again, the Irish were working from behind, but this time couldn’t complete a comeback and force OT. With that being said, both Syracuse and Northwestern were outscored in the fourth quarter of their entanglements with Notre Dame.

Syracuse's Emily Hawryschuk looks to score off a free position.
Syracuse's Emily Hawryschuk scored a season-high four goals in the win over Notre Dame.

There are other similarities beyond each team’s most recent feat over the ACC foe. Both have also faced multiple top-25 opponents to start. The Orange have competed against an average ranking of 11 between the number 13 Cardinal, number four Seawolves, and the number 17 Irish. For the Wildcats, the math comes out to 9 with contests against number one Eagles and number 17 Irish. SU is 3-0 in these competitions while Northwestern is 1-1.

On to the differences. The offensive side of the ball will get attention first. The Wildcats are a top-10 scoring offense. The team ranks tied for number six with 16.5 goals per game. The Orange sits just a half a goal behind and is seated at 12. The bigger disparity comes in how the major attacking pieces are used.

Syracuse's Meaghan Tyrell looks to score vs. Notre Dame
Syracuse's Meaghan Tyrell scores the game-winner in South Bend in extra time. The attacker leads the team in scoring with 17 goals this season.

The Orange frontloads with the “Meg” combination of Meaghan Tyrell and Megan Carney. The attacker duo has a combined 28 goals and 40 points. That method has been working for the Cuse. For Northwestern, it’s only a slight distinction, Lauren Gilbert and Erin Coykendall have put together 24 goals and 34 points. In order to match the productivity of the “Meg Show,” the Wildcats have to add another scoring threat. Right now, the answer to that call has been Brennan Dwyer. The midfielder has put 10 balls in the back of the net this season with 11 points.

All in all, this comes down to a competition between two tested teams that have had a similar path. The top-10 matchup starts in Evanston, Illinois at 4 p.m. The Wildcats hold an 8-1 series lead when facing the Orange at home.