2022 Syracuse Women’s Lacrosse Preview
By: Ian Nicholas | @IanNicholas25
First-year head coach Kayla Treanor; five years removed from her playing days with Syracuse women’s lacrosse, returns to the program with Gary Gait sized shoes to fill. The 28-year-old replaces her former coach, who led the Orange to three national championship games across 14 seasons. Last year, Gait’s squad went 17-4, falling to Boston College in the NCAA title bout. As the Eagle’s associate head coach, Treanor was on the sideline for BC’s triumph over her former team. Over four years in Chestnut Hill, Treanor mentored Tewaaraton Award winners Sam Apuzzo and Charlotte North. Treanor herself was a finalist for the Tewaaraton three times, but her individual success never translated to a NCAA championship. Back in Salt City; coaching a team ranked third in the preseason ILWomen/IWLCA Division I Poll, Treanor has earned another chance to bring Syracuse its first national title.
If Treanor guides the Orange to Championship Weekend in May, then she’ll have done it without the help of Emma Ward. 2021’s freshman sensation announced late last month that a lower-leg injury which requires repairing is shutting her season down. Last year, Ward dominated at attack, finishing top-three on the team in goals (43) and assists (30). In January, the Sophomore was named an Inside Lacrosse Preseason All-American honorable mention.
Ward helped SU’s attack unit overcome brutal injury losses, with Emily Hawryschuk (IL Preseason First-Team All-American) and Megan Carney (IL Preseason Honorable Mention) missing significant time with ACL tears. Both players are now healthy, ready to fill the void left by Ward’s absence. Hawryschuk; Syracuse’s leading goal scorer three years straight (2018-20), sustained her injury just one game into 2021. Returning for a sixth season, the 23-year-old is 64 goals shy of breaking Treanor’s all-time program record. Carney was named an IWLCA Second-Team All-American in 2021 despite missing nine games. One-half of the ‘Meg Show’ (alongside Meagan Tyrell), Carney’s elite athleticism and powerful shot helped her tally 69 points in an injury-shortened junior season.
Carney’s partner-in-crime, fellow senior attack Meagan Tyrell, certainly put on a show in 2021. The IL Preseason First-Team All-American captivated the nation with a statline of 68 goals (26 in four NCAA tournament games) and 44 assists. The southpaw’s 112 points last spring ranks third most in program history. Treanor told USA Lacrosse Magazine last month that Tyrell “really stepped up and did a great job of having ownership over the offense this fall.”
Meagan’s younger sister, junior Emma Tyrell, is Syracuse’s swiss army knife. After starting 2021 playing midfield, Tyrell netted three or more goals in five of the last eight games at attack. An IL Preseason Honorable Mention, Tyrell finished fourth on the Orange in points (58) and third in draw controls (43). With Hawryschuk and Carney back in the fold, the younger Tyrell should return to her natural position. As a result, USC transfer Savannah Sweitzer is set to play plenty in the fourth attack slot. The junior scored six goals in 11 appearances for the Trojans in 2021 and is transferring in alongside her twin sister Delaney, a goalie.
Emma Tyrell isn’t the only standout SU midfielder, though. Graduate student Sam Swart; an IL Preseason Second-Team All-American, set career highs in points (48), goals (41), and ground balls (18) last year. Swart’s steady play in the postseason helped the Orange appear in both the ACC and NCAA championship game. A hat trick against Boston College in the ACC Tournament and three goal efforts against Loyola and Northwestern in the NCAA Tournament proved the veteran’s worth. Another experienced midfielder, senior Sierra Cockerille, isn’t getting enough attention according to her new coach. Treanor stated to USA Lacrosse Magazine that Cockerille “still totally flies under the radar,” despite notching 50 points and 18 ground balls as a full-time starter. The Baltimore native certainly made a great impression on Treanor, who went on to say “she’s an unbelievable midfielder and is going to be a key for us come this spring,” (USA Lacrosse Magazine).
If you haven’t figured it out by now, this team will have no problems scoring the ball. Where Syracuse may experience some issues is on the defensive end, following the losses of Ella Simkins and Kerry Defliese to graduation. There’s no need to worry about IL Preseason First-Team All-American Sarah Cooper, however. Starting in all 47 games she’s played since 2019, the senior scooped-up the second-most ground balls per game in the conference last spring. The former ACC Freshman of the Year totaled career bests in ground balls (48) and caused turnovers (33), en route to being named a Tewaaraton Award nominee. Cooper will continue to anchor the unit, coached by seventh-year defensive coordinator Caitlin Defliese.
The biggest question Defliese and Treanor have to answer in terms of personnel revolves around who will replace the program’s all-time saves leader, Asa Goldstock. To put into perspective Goldstock’s reliability for SU: she started all 22 games in cage during Treanor’s final season as a player. Syracuse now turns to four new faces; including two transfers, to step-up this spring. Redshirt junior Kimber Hower joins the Orange following two seasons as North Carolina’s backup, owning a .521% save percentage. Out of high school, the Utah native was the fourth-best goalie in the 2019 class. Another junior, Delaney Sweitzer, is the aforementioned twin of Savannah. The former Under Armour All-American recorded a .429% save percentage through three games with USC. Redshirt freshman Tate Paulson is a relative unknown, but was a four-star recruit out of Connecticut a year ago. Rounding out the group is graduate student Hannah Van Middelem. In 12 appearances over three healthy seasons, the Long Island product has a .408% save percentage.
As SU officially begins the Kayla Treanor era, her four captains leading the way are Emily Hawryschuk (a three-time captain), Megan Carney, Sarah Cooper, and Meagan Tyrell. #13 Stanford travels to the Carrier Dome on Friday, February 11 to kick off the 2022 season. #3 Syracuse face’s #4 Northwestern (March 1) and #1 Boston College (April 23) on the road, in rematches of 2021’s national semifinal and final, respectively. 11 of the Orange’s 17 contests will feature foes who made the 2021 NCAA Tournament. Syracuse’s schedule doesn’t provide a cake walk to return to Championship Weekend for the ninth time in program history, but Treanor and her team certainly have the talent to make this happen.