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No. 2 Syracuse opens NCAA Tournament play with Johns Hopkins

Senior Meaghan Tyrrell gives a pregame speech to her teammates.
Senior Meaghan Tyrrell gives a pregame speech to her teammates.

After an unprecedented start to the season with 15 straight wins, Syracuse Women's lacrosse (16-2, 8-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) was rolling. It ranked No. 1 for five weeks in a row and seemed primed for a deep postseason run.

Then came the regular season finale against Boston College. The Orange blew a four-goal fourth-quarter lead and suffered its first loss of the season at the hands of the Eagles.

The 'Cuse entered the ACC tournament as the second seed and hoped to avenge its last loss and bring home a conference tournament title. Syracuse faced Virginia Tech in the quarterfinals and received a tougher game than they had hoped. Earlier this year, the Orange throttled the Hokies 16-5, but things were much different the second time around. VT battled SU for 60 minutes, but the ‘Cuse advanced to the semifinals after a gritty 14-12 win.

Syracuse then faced a top 5 North Carolina squad it beat in Chapel Hill by a pair of goals just two weeks ago. The Orange found itself in a deep 8-0 hole in the second quarter and could not crawl out of it. SU suffered its second loss in its last three games, 15-9, ending the hopes of a conference tournament title.

Despite a lackluster end to the season, Syracuse found itself as the second overall seed in the NCAA tournament and received a first-round bye plus a date with Johns Hopkins (9-8, 4-2 Big Ten Conference) in round two.

SU head coach Kayla Treanor isn't looking too far ahead to the postseason.

"I think that's a big part of our formula in order to move forward is you just have to take it one game at a time and focus on your opponent that you have."

Syracuse teammates gather at midfield during a midgame stoppage.
Syracuse teammates gather at midfield during a midgame stoppage.

The Blue Jays didn't have the fairytale start the Orange did. JHU started 4-6 and had slim tournament hopes. However, things turned around for head coach Tim McCormack's squad, winning four of its final five regular season games. The Blue Jays lost in its first conference tournament game against Rutgers. However, they secured an at-large bid for its 5th consecutive tournament appearance.

Johns Hopkins advanced to round 2 after a 19-8 win over UMass Friday afternoon. A huge offensive performance was the catalyst for the win. The Blue Jays' 19 goals, ten assists, and 17 draw controls are the most in an NCAA Tournament game in program history.

Syracuse and Johns Hopkins face off for the first time on Sunday. The eyes are always on the stars, but the star players couldn't be more different in this game.

SU holds the experience advantage with grad student Meaghan Tyrrell. From being a Tewaaraton Award finalist in back-to-back years to sitting ninth on the all-time NCAA points list with 404, The attacker has no shortage of accomplishments throughout her career. However, one accomplishment puts her atop the program record books.

With 3:10 left in the 3rd quarter against Boston College, Tyrrell dished an assist to her sister Emma Tyrrell to become the all-time Syracuse points leader.

When asked if her record-breaking point being an assist to her sister meant anything, Meaghan Tyrrell said it was more important to someone else.

"I'm sure my mom probably loved that."

The star on the other side isn't a 5th year senior; it's a true freshman, Ava Angello. The New York native leads the Blue Jays in goals and points. Angello has her place in the Blue Jay's record books. The midfielder ranks third in JHU history in points (51) and fourth in goals (38) by a freshman. Angello is the leader of a balanced offensive attack for the Blue Jays that features five players with 30 or more points.

The Orange and the Blue Jays do battle from SU Soccer Stadium Sunday at three.