Sweitzer-led Syracuse Defense Needs to Continue its Recent Success with Four Straight Ranked Opponents Coming Up
Adam Avin | @_adamavin
CitrusTV Women’s Lacrosse Beat Reporter
When Syracuse WLAX plays, it’s easy to talk about its elite, high-powered scoring offense. It’s not something to stop talking about either. However, it is important to highlight the Orange defense, which has played exceptionally well through the team’s first six-games of the season.
Syracuse hasn’t trailed since the first quarter of the first game against No. 3 Northwestern, partially due to the attack taking early leads, but it’s the defense which has kept opponents from getting back in the games. Through 6 games, ‘Cuse holds the largest scoring margin (9.50) in the country, scoring 107 goals while its opponents have only 50, proving how strong both the offense and defense has been.
Goalie Delaney Sweitzer has made the most impressive transition from last year, and created a true advantage for the Syracuse defense. In the fall of 2021, Sweitzer transferred from USC hoping to become the starter in the Spring. Instead, she had to battle it out with UNC transfer Kimber Hower. Ultimately, after each playing through the first five-games Hower became the permanent starter for the rest of the season…but if this year was your introduction to Syracuse WLAX then you’d probably be thinking she’s been the starter her whole career.
This season, Sweitzer has set her career-high in saves three times already (11, 13, 15) and has a goals allowed average of 7.36, also a career-high. Last game against Virginia Tech, Sweitzer had what Kayla Treanor called “one of the best individual performances by any player this year.” 15 saves, five goals allowed, six ground balls, two caused turnovers. The senior also hasn’t given up more than 10 goals since Week 2 vs. Maryland, and even in that game the Terrapins scored 11, but came into the year as the fourth ranked scoring offense in college lacrosse averaging almost 17 a game. Sweitzer has the fourth-best save percentage in the country (.592), and has more saves than everyone else in the top-10 of that statistic.
If you’re confused by any those stats, here’s all of it in simpler terms: Delaney Sweitzer is making a name for herself as one of the best goalies in college lacrosse and anchoring the Syracuse defense which is a force to be reckoned with.
Coach Treanor has given a lot of praise to her defense after many of the team’s games. Along with Sweitzer, she has specifically mentioned both Bianca Chevarie and Katie Goodale on multiple occasions, calling them “two of the best individual defenders in the country.” Both Chevarie and Goodale lead Syracuse in caused turnovers with 11 each. Chevarie has 16 ground balls and Goodale has with 12, both behind Sweitzer (17). Quite frankly, no teammate of theirs comes close to them in either category. They may be setting the tone, but Syracuse’s defense (just like its attack) works like a well-oiled machine that’s already been hard to slow down.
The Orange’s next four matchups are all against ranked opponents: No. 12 Notre Dame, No. 7 Loyola, No. 13 Duke, and No. 4 Stony Brook. In scoring offense, those teams rank: 6th, 29th, 15th, and 8th, respectively. If Syracuse can continue its recent defensive success, that’ll give the team even more of a chance of winning during this stretch of tough offense-heavy opponents.
The Orange start their ranked-opponents-run against Notre Dame tomorrow, Saturday March 11th, at 12 p.m. It’s Syracuse’s 7th contest (3rd ACC) of the season so far. Follow @_adamavin on Twitter to stay updated with the game.