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Syracuse women's lacrosse blown out in NCAA quarterfinals by Northwestern

Syracuse senior attacker Meaghan Tyrrell (18, blue) scores one of her three goals in the team's lopsided loss to Northwestern.
Syracuse senior attacker Meaghan Tyrrell (18, blue) scores one of her three goals in the team's lopsided loss to Northwestern.

Whatever Syracuse spent the week practicing for their showdown with Northwestern in the NCAA quarterfinals, this certainly wasn’t it.

On a gorgeous, sunny day by the shores of Lake Michigan, the Orange offense was positively arctic. Syracuse (15-6, 6-2 ACC) suffered its worst scoring output of the season and as a result, took its most lopsided loss in tournament history, by a final score of 15-4.

“They had a great game plan,” Treanor said of Northwestern (16-4, 5-1 Big Ten). “I think their goalie played one of the best games she’s played all year.”

Northwestern senior Madison Doucette saved 11 Syracuse shots to just the four goals allowed. That .733 save percentage was her highest in any of the 39 games she has started to this point in her collegiate career.

For Doucette, the memory of the Wildcats’ 21-13 loss in last year’s Final Four against this Syracuse team served as motivation to send the Orange packing this time around.

“Obviously we had a score to settle after last year,” Doucette said after the win. “It was nice to kind of stick it to them a little bit.”

The blowout loss was one of historic proportions. Syracuse had lost by eleven goals only one other time in tournament history, suffering a 21-10 loss to Boston College in 2017. And the last time the Orange lost to any team by more than 11 was in 2008—to eventual national champions Northwestern.

Though the Orange would not use it as an excuse, it is impossible not to acknowledge the significance injuries played throughout their season. When SU lost 16-15 to Northwestern on March 1, they also lost senior midfielder Sierra Cockerille for the season. They would later add All-American midfielder Emma Tyrrell to the injury list, in addition to 2021 breakout star Emma Ward, who was injured during the preseason.

“It’s heartbreaking; it’s really difficult for all the players, not just the injured players,” Treanor said. “But I think in spite of that, the girls responded incredibly. They had an incredible bond because of all the adversity they had faced.”

Thursday’s drubbing also marked an unceremonious end to the debut season for Kayla Treanor as the Orange head coach, plus the end of some remarkable Syracuse careers.

Though she went scoreless in this game, Emily Hawryschuk finished her six-year Syracuse tenure with the all-time goals record. And Meaghan Tyrrell, who has one remaining year of eligibility but graduated this semester, became the seventh Orange player to record 200 career goals with her hat Trick Thursday, also leaving her just one goal shy of Treanor’s single season record of 79.

Treanor said that despite the loss, this season’s Syracuse team was a group she would always remember fondly.

“They care so much about lacrosse and each other,” Treanor said. “They have a lot of fun and they’re really a joy to be around.”

One of the most stunning aspects of the loss was that the Orange dominated throughout most of the contest in the draw circle.

When they trailed 9-2 at halftime, Syracuse had an identical 9-2 lead in draw controls. The final tally was 12-7 in favor of the Orange, marking the most positive draw control differential for Syracuse in any of the six games they lost this season.

“I think Kate [Mashewske] did amazing on the draw today,” said senior defender Sarah Cooper, another member of the draw unit. “When you’re not converting goals after a draw win, it’s just the defense focusing in and trying to get the turnover.”

Now, the future is uncertain for this Syracuse team and many of its stars. Hawryschuk and fifth year starting midfielder Sam Swart are gone, but for players who would typically be leaving as graduating seniors, the decision is more complicated.

Due to the lost 2020 season, players have an additional year of eligibility they may choose to use—at Syracuse or elsewhere. That means players like Tyrrell, Cooper, Cockerille and Megan Carney could be back in orange next season, but none have yet announced plans to return.

Whomever might be on her team next season, Treanor is hopeful that this loss will serve as fuel for future success.

“I’m sure that this loss will stay with them,” Treanor said. “They won’t forget that and hopefully it’ll be motivation going into next year.”

Next season will come along, and with it, the Orange will saddle up for another run at the program’s first national title. Alas, be it because of injuries, poor defensive efforts or simply facing superior opponents, Syracuse just didn’t have the magic this year.