Syracuse Outmasters Florida 17-11, advances to first Final Four since 2016
By Joe Puccio, CitrusTV Women’s Lacrosse Beat Reporter
3rd-seeded Syracuse Women’s Lacrosse (16-3, 8-2 in Atlantic Coast Conference) took down 6th-seeded and American Athletic Conference champion Florida (18-3, 10-0 in American Athletic Conference) 17-11.
The Orange captured their 7th appearance to the national semifinals in program history. Unlike Syracuse’s home games this season, the Orange hosted this game outdoors at SU Soccer Stadium. Unlike most of Syracuse’s wins, it wasn’t a cakewalk to victory.
The opening draw went to the Gators and they took no time scoring on their opening possession. Leading scorer Brianna Harris netted her 48th goal of the season 20 seconds into the contest. Syracuse would answer back thanks to tallies from Meaghan Tyrrell and Emma Ward, giving the Orange their first lead.
The first half would consist of three ties and three lead changes. Not a single team could break away from each other. SU thought they were heading to the locker room with a one-goal advantage, but Babylon, NY’s Emily Heller bounced one past SU’s Asa Goldstock with six seconds left. Goldstock knew that there was work to be done, but it was manageable.
“That goal with six seconds left was frustrating. I feel like we’ve always held ourselves to a high standard so that made us work harder in the second half. I said ‘we either have 30 minutes and our season is over or we have 30 minutes and we can practice next week.’”
That’s what the presence of a leader like Asa Goldstock does to a team. She commanded the locker room and helped spark an SU scoring onslaught in the second period. Another Babylon-native Emma Ward and USILA All-Region member Emma Tyrrell kickstarted a 5-0 run to start the half.
Freshman Emma Ward would finish with a team-high six goals in today’s contest, five of which coming in the second frame. Regardless of whether you’re a graduate like Goldstock or a freshman like Ward, the right people step up in the biggest moments.
“At halftime, we talked about running our weave a little bit better than we were in the first half. In the second half, we were able to do that and it created a lot of scoring opportunities,” said Emma Ward. “We had success in the second half because of [our offensive execution].
That offensive mantra was also preached by Head Coach Gary Gait.
“The funny thing is the adjustment was: just do what we ask you to do. Run our offense, be patient, and we got clean looks at the goal. Got us some draw controls and made some stops defensively. Being patient and trusting in our system was the key.”
The Gators got tired in the musty, 85-degree weather known as…Syracuse, NY. You would’ve thought this game was played in Gainesville if the SU Soccer signage was not proudly displayed around the park.
Florida played from behind the entire second half. Despite cutting SU’s lead to 13-10 halfway through the second, it wasn’t enough. Syracuse powered through thanks to the six goals from Ward, another four goals from Emma Tyrrell, and a hat-trick from her sister Meaghan Tyrrell.
This win caps off two straight postseason victories in Upstate NY and their final games at home for the 2021 season. Up next for the Orange is a date with 2nd-seeded Northwestern (15-0, 11-0 in Big Ten) in the Final Four. The game will be played next Friday, May 28th at Johnny Unitas Stadium in Towson, MD. Opening draw will either be at 12-noon or 2 pm.
Joe Puccio | @TheRealJoePooch | email@example.com