NCAA Tournament Outlook For Syracuse Women’s Lacrosse After Selection Sunday
By: Ian Nicholas | @IanNicholasTV
CitrusTV Women’s Lacrosse Beat Reporter
Yesterday, Selection Sunday came and went, and there were no real surprises for Syracuse Women’s Lacrosse (13-5, 6-3 Atlantic Coast Conference). SU was handed the five seed after its early exit from the ACC Tournament at the hands of Virginia. The last time the Orange earned the five seed was 2019. That NCAA Tournament run ended in the quarterfinals at the hands of the four seed, Northwestern. Three years later, these two powerhouses have a chance to clash yet again if they advance past the second round; as the Wildcats (13-4, 5-1 Big Ten Conference) are the four seed once more.
Syracuse’s road to a 2019 rematch in Evanston should run through the Salt City. Instead, SU’s commencement weekend has thrown a wrench in those plans. This Friday, The ‘Cuse travels to play its first round opponent Fairfield (13-6, 5-3 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) in Princeton, New Jersey. According to a press release sent out last night, the reason the Orange cannot host despite owning the highest seed at the site is because “the NCAA’s minimum requirements for hotels and lodging could not be met.” Essentially, due to the massive hotel traffic generated by Syracuse University’s commencement, the other three teams in SU’s tournament pod (Fairfield, Princeton, and UMass) would have nowhere to stay.
Regardless, the change in venue should have little impact on the result of Friday’s contest. Although the Orange haven’t seen the Stages in 22 years, SU is 3-0 all-time against Fairfield (with an average margin of victory of over 12 goals). The Stages earned a bid to the National Tournament after defeating Monmouth and claiming their fourth straight MAAC title on Sunday. Fairfield hasn’t made much noise outside of its conference, however, with an 0-3 record in the NCAA Tournament since 2018. These losses include a 13-goal defeat to Boston College in 2021 and a 16-goal drubbing by Loyola (MD) four years ago. The Stages are led by Second-team All-MAAC selection Elizabeth Talluto, who paces Fairfield in points (67) and goals (47).
Sunday’s potential showdown with Princeton (14-3, 7-0 Ivy League) is when a lack of home field advantage could impact Syracuse. The Tigers are debatably the top unseeded squad in the field, considering only eight teams are seeded and Princeton is currently ranked No. 9 in the latest Inside Lacrosse national poll. Three-time national championship winner Chris Sailer has steered the Tigers toward seven straight wins ahead of Friday’s matchup with the Minutewomen of UMass (ranked No. 19 in IL’s latest rankings). In Sailer’s 36th and final year at the helm of Princeton, the Tigers have gone 4-3 against ranked competition (including a six-goal victory over Virginia to open 2022). Princeton ended SU’s season the last time these two saw one another in 2018. The Tigers toppled the Orange in double overtime in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, and are 2-1 all-time vs. The ‘Cuse.
Skaneateles native and senior attacker Kyla Sears leads Princeton with 63 goals on the season and 202 for her career. Senior defender Marge Donovan is the Tiger’s all-time leader in draw controls with 204, and notched a program-record 12 DCs in Sunday’s Ivy League Championship win over Yale. Princeton has some starpower but is still 0-3 against top-10 teams. Meanwhile, three of The ‘Cuse’s five losses were against squads ranked outside the top-5. What this means is a lot can happen over the next week for SU Women’s Lacrosse, although one thing’s for sure: while Syracuse University graduates celebrate inside The Dome, Kayla Treanor hopes to have just as much fun at Sherrerd Field in her first NCAA Tournament appearance as head coach of the Orange.