Women's Lacrosse

Kayla Treanor’s draw control dominance creates chances for Syracuse offense

Liam Sheehan | Staff Photographer

Kayla Treanor took on a new role as Syracuse's draw control specialist at the beginning of the season and she's created key chances for SU this season.

Practice had ended in the Carrier Dome and most of Syracuse’s players filed off the field, putting on their sneakers and talking about weekend plans and finals. But the conversations were pierced by a whistle.

Two days before Syracuse concluded the regular season against Louisville in late April, Kayla Treanor, the nation’s best on the draw, prepped to face the nation’s second best in UofL specialist Kaylin Morissette.

Treanor and a few members of SU’s draw team stood at the circle in the empty Dome. The senior attack pressed her white stick, the one she only uses for draws, against the stick of freshman Julie Cross. Orange head coach Gary Gait blew his whistle, the sticks twisted and the ball flew high. The 5-foot-9 Treanor extended her right arm, used her body to shield Cross’ 6-foot-1 frame and snatched the ball away.

Five, 10, 20 minutes passed. The whistle blew again and again. She wouldn’t be finished until dark, SU assistant coach Michelle Tumolo joked.

Two days later, Treanor led Syracuse to a 16-9 draw advantage over Louisville in the 13-10 win. The Orange hasn’t lost in the draw circle in one month and it played a key role in several of SU’s latest wins. The draw became crucial this past Saturday against Stony Brook when a surprise faceguard of Treanor coupled with an unfamiliar zone nearly sent the Orange home early.

The draw controls led to more chances, more looks at the zone and No. 4 seed Syracuse (18-5, 5-2 Atlantic Coast) finally figured out the defense, sneaking past the Seawolves with a 7-6 win. SU next plays Southern California (20-0, 9-0 Mountain Pacific Sports) in the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament in the Carrier Dome on Saturday at 3 p.m.

“(The draw) is Kayla Treanor at 100 percent,” Gait said after beating SBU. “They faceguarded her, shut her off and we decided to bring her out. But (the draw) got us back in the game. By her getting the ball, it was huge.”

Syracuse commanded an 11-4 draw advantage over the Seawolves. SBU head coach Joe Spallina put his hands on his head, turned to his assistants and called Treanor “a magician” after she won her sixth straight.

Treanor wins draws by flicking it up to herself or directing the ball to an area or teammate. The last time Treanor took draws consistently was in high school, but she was thrust into this role as a senior since draw specialist Kailah Kempney graduated after last season.

She responded by breaking Kempney’s single-season school record for draw controls (203). She ranks first nationally in total draw controls and draws per game.

“Her father always says she won the gene pool lottery,” Janice Treanor, her mother, said. “To be 5-foot-9 and muscular gives her an advantage over a lot of girls.”

Only one draw specialist left in the tournament is as tall as Treanor: USC’s 5-foot-10 Michaela Michael, who will face SU in the quarterfinals.

Southern California has the best defense in the nation. Stony Brook was the second best. So if the Seawolves were any indication, the lockdown defense will slow Syracuse’s offense and place a heightened importance on having more chances to find holes.

“We needed to come up with (more draws),” Treanor said after beating Stony Brook, “so we could get more possessions than they did.”

The draw has kept Syracuse in many games this season, even though the Orange wasn’t able to close. In regular season losses to top teams Florida and Maryland, Syracuse won 29-of-48 draws. In the ACC tournament final, despite having fewer groundballs and more than double as many turnovers, Syracuse forced No. 1 seed North Carolina to overtime before losing 15-14. The Orange held a 20-10 advantage in the draw circle and Treanor won the only extra-period draw.

The difference now, in games like Stony Brook, is that secondary scoring options are stepping up to make good on the extra chances Treanor is earning at the circle.

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