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Syracuse women's lacrosse bulldozes No. 24 Virginia Tech to close out road trip

Syracuse attacker Emily Hawryschuck (51, blue) turns a corner in her five-goal performance against the Hokies.
Syracuse attacker Emily Hawryschuck (51, blue) turns a corner in her five-goal performance against the Hokies.

Less than three days removed from their worst performance of the season, Syracuse women’s lacrosse traveled to Blacksburg, Virginia and put on a display of brilliance.

Sometimes, a loss in the short term can be the healthiest thing for a top team’s long-term success. Syracuse played lackluster, uninspired lacrosse in their loss at Florida Wednesday night, and head coach Kayla Treanor appeared reluctant to allow her team to continue down that path. The Orange, at one point, scored 13 out of 14 goals, dominating Virginia Tech by a final score of 17-5 and moving to 4-0 in the hotly contested ACC.

We’ve seen firsthand the importance Treanor places on playing with emotion. Before the team’s 18-16 comeback win over No. 7 Duke on Mar. 6, Treanor addressed the team with a message—winning is a byproduct of playing the game with passion.

“Let’s celebrate big,” she told her team that day. “The team that has more fun today is the team that’s going to win.”

Saturday, the celebrations were on full display at Thompson Field. Meaghan Tyrrell and Megan Carney embraced as they connected to score SU’s first goal of the afternoon. Emma Tyrrell tossed her stick aside in triumph when she extended the lead to two for the first time. And Emily Hawryschuck beamed with delight when she went on a three-goal tear in the fourth quarter to add to what was by then an insurmountable lead.

“It’s a part of our game plan,” Treanor said last Thursday, when she last addressed the media. “When this group plays together and has fun, and just plays as a unit, they’re hard to stop.”

The offense indeed looked uncontainable Saturday as the team’s top three goal scorers each netted at least a hat trick. Hawryschuck led the way with five, which included her 233rd career goal midway through the second quarter. That moved her past the legendary Katie Rowan, Syracuse’s only retired number among women’s lacrosse players, for third place on the all-time scoring list.

Meaghan Tyrrell backed up Hawryschuck with four goals, including the first two the team scored, which knotted the game back up after the Hokies took a quick 2-0 advantage. She also added three assists to match her season high.

Carney led the team with five assists, the most any Orange player has had in a single game all season. This included two to Tyrrell and all three of Hawryschuck’s consecutive fourth quarter scorers. Emma Tyrrell rounded out the stat sheet with two goals and an assist.

Perhaps the most encouraging sign for the Orange was that their two biggest question marks seemed to be non-issues on Saturday. The goalkeeping has never looked better, as Kimber Hower let in a season-low five opponent goals, saving four and altering many more shots than the stat sheet gave her credit for stopping. And Katelyn Mashewske continued her dominance on the draw from the second half of the Florida game, helping the Orange to a season-best 20-6 advantage in the circle.

Mashewske controlled eleven of those draws herself, also a personal best in 2022. It’s anyone’s guess what Treanor may have said to her junior draw specialist at halftime in Gainesville, but one thing is clear: if Mashewske continues to win draws at the rate she currently is, the Orange are going to be nearly impossible to stop on offense.

With the win, on the highest of notes, the three-game Syracuse road trip comes to a close. A 2-1 southern swing is certainly not the end of the world, and the team now gets a full week of rest, playing its next contest Mar. 26 at home against 5-3 Temple. Unless the Owls make an unexpected return to the polls, they will be the first unranked opponent Syracuse has played in eight games.

Moving forward, the Orange will play fewer ranked opponents—after all, their last seven have been against teams ranked in the current ILWomen/IWLCA polls. But they’ll still face off with No. 1 Boston College and No. 2 North Carolina, both of which could have massive ACC and NCAA Tournament seeding implications.

So, to keep a long story short, it’s a good thing for Syracuse that they found their stride down in Blacksburg Saturday afternoon. They’ll need to play exactly like they did in this one to compete for what Treanor established as the goal of this team from day one: a national championship.