Four Games Down and Four Wins to Show For it. A Syracuse Season Review ¼ of the Way Through 2022
By: Ian Nicholas | @IanNicholas25
When taking a glance at the success of Syracuse Women’s Lacrosse through four games, you’d find a perfect 4-0 record and three ranked wins. No doubt an impressive beginning to the Kayla Treanor era. For a team with its aspirations set on a return to the national title game, though, 4-0 was an expected start to 2022. Throughout the season, Syracuse has been ranked as the No. 3 team in the nation (according to the Inside Lacrosse/IWLCA D1 Poll), behind No. 1 Boston College and No. 2 North Carolina. With a combined record of 14-0, this trio has taken care of business; winning games that they’re supposed to win. Call me crazy, but if a team not named Boston College, North Carolina, or Syracuse hoisted the national championship, then something will have gone drastically wrong over the next three months.
Although three of the Orange’s first four victories have come against top-20 opponents, these wins haven’t come without some serious questions. SU opened the season at home with a 12-9 triumph over then 13th-ranked Stanford. Since that loss, the Cardinal own just a 1-3 record and have dropped 12 spots in the rankings. It took Syracuse until midway through the fourth quarter to build a five goal lead against a team that didn’t have its best player available in 2021 2nd-team All-American Ali Baiocco. And even then, SU’s new-look defense gave up two quick goals to cut its lead to three with over four minutes left in regulation.
There’s not much to pick at when revisiting a 23-6 home rout of Binghamton in game No. 2. The Orange built a 6-0 lead within the first eight minutes against a Bearcats team they’re 8-0 against all-time. Binghamton did make it a 7-3 contest halfway through the second quarter before Syracuse casually scored nine unanswered to seal the deal. Senior Meaghan Tyrrell was named USA Lacrosse Magazine’s National Player of the Week after accumulating 14 points through SU’s first two games; reminding the nation that she was the driving force of Syracuse’s 2021 title run.
Both Tyrrell and partner-in-crime Megan Carney showed up in the Orange’s biggest test thus far, guiding Syracuse past then 4th-ranked Stony Brook 12-11 in game No. 3. The “Meg Show” carried the squad, playing a hand in all 12 of SU’s scores. Now, I’m not insinuating that a great team shouldn’t lean on its two best talents when the stakes are high. But when that game plan only translates to 12 goals, I’d say that strategy isn’t your best option; especially against BC or UNC in the postseason. Joe Spallina’s Seawolves are justifiably ranked within the top-5 nationally, but they’re still the same program that’s never advanced past the National Quarterfinals. This top-5 win still means plenty for confidence and team morale, but Stony Brook doesn’t necessarily serve as a great measuring stick for the teams Syracuse needs to beat down the line (i.e. BC & UNC).
SU’s latest win was another match that went down to the wire against a talented foe. In South Bend on Saturday, a Meaghan Tyrrell overtime score propelled Syracuse past then 17th-ranked Notre Dame 17-16. Despite ND’s 1-4 record, this was still a massive win for The ‘Cuse. The Fighting Irish began the year ranked fifth nationally and only lost to No. 6 Northwestern by one goal three days earlier. Syracuse offensively figured out how to get everyone involved, as seven different players scored a goal. Another nice sight to see was the performance midfielder Emma Tyrrell put together. The Junior tied a career-high for points (7) and ground balls (9) in a game. While the SU offense flashed its upside, the defense collapsed down the stretch; blowing a 14-9 lead with under 11 minutes to go in regulation. The goalie combo of Delaney Sweitzer and Kimber Hower made just 6 saves while letting in 16 shots. Both goaltenders have underwhelmed statistically to start, emerging as the Orange’s one true cause for concern. Sweitzer (.241%) and Hower (.406%) both have save percentages south of 50, getting an even split of playing time thus far. While the loss of six-year netminder Asa Goldstock is being felt, Coach Treanor has publicly backed her goalies on numerous occasions.
For Treanor’s unit in 2022, the wins may not always be pretty. SU’s last two wins, however, prove something far more important than the margin of victory. Treanor’s team has the talent and composure to win when the going gets tough. No. 3 Syracuse stays on the road to face No. 6 Northwestern (3-1, 0-0 Big Ten Conference) tomorrow at 4. The Wildcats are not as dangerous without reigning Big 10 Attacker of the Year Izzy Scane, who’ll miss the remainder of 2022 with an injury. Regardless, Northwestern won’t lack motivation, looking to avenge its loss to SU in last year’s National Semifinals. This will be Syracuse’s final challenge against elite competition before clashes with No. 2 North Carolina (April 9) and No. 1 Boston College (April 22) later in its schedule.