Defense Folds Late as Syracuse Drops First Game of 2022 to Northwestern in Overtime, 16-15
By: Ian Nicholas | @IanNicholas25
CitrusTV Women’s Lacrosse Beat Reporter
EVANSTON, IL – Personally, I’ve never been a fan of the nickname ‘Cardiac Cuse’ for any Syracuse University sports team. The phrase is used far too often. But for the SU Women’s Lacrosse team, the shoe fits and the need for heart medicine exists. No. 3 Syracuse (4-1, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) lost in stunning fashion at No. 6 Northwestern (4-1, 0-0 Big Ten Conference) today inside Ryan Fieldhouse.
The Orange’s last three games (all against ranked opponents) have now been decided by a combined three goals. Saturday’s win over Notre Dame and today’s loss to Northwestern both needed an overtime period to be decided. For reference, the last time Syracuse played in an overtime game before last Saturday was nearly three years ago in March 2019. 2022 is already proving to be a different beast for first-year Head Coach Kayla Treanor and the Orange.
Why? Well, let’s start with the late game defense Syracuse has played over the last week. In South Bend on Saturday, the Orange held a comfortable 14-9 lead with 11 minutes left in regulation. By the end of the fourth, the Fighting Irish had tied the game up at 16. Thanks to the existence of Meaghan Tyrrell; and more specifically her game-winning goal in overtime, Syracuse’s defensive woes were swept under the rug.
But today, SU’s shortcomings on defense were on full display; and on national television nonetheless. With just over 3:30 to go in the fourth, the Orange led the Wildcats 15-12. Three unanswered goals between Lauren Gilbert and Jill Girardi wiped the lead away. When Gilbert won the opening draw of overtime and Syracuse needed a stop, what happened? Sam Swart committed a foul, and Gilbert effortlessly scored off a free position, smack dab in the face of goalie Kimber Hower.
The pieces around new SU goalies Kimber Hower and Delaney Sweitzer aren’t perfect, and do lack experience outside of All-American Sarah Cooper. However, the two transfers have saved only nine shots over the last two games, while giving up 31 goals in that span. That lack of production simply will not cut it against teams such as Northwestern, North Carolina, or Boston College in the postseason.
What will make a difference in those games is the impact of superstar graduate student Emily Hawryschuk. The All-American looked like her pre-injury self for the first time in 2022 against Northwestern, scoring six goals and adding three assists. She even won a pair of crucial draw controls in the tight loss. Combine a 100% healthy Hawryschuk with Meaghan Tyrrell, Emma Tyrrell, and Megan Carney; and you have an SU squad that’ll compete blow-for-blow with anyone. But without a steady defense to close out games, more of today’s heartbreakers will occur down the line. Hopefully the next such game doesn’t occur on Sunday, March 6th vs. #7 Duke (6-0, 0-0 Atlantic Coast Conference). The Blue Devils are off to their best start in over half a decade.