Maryland blows out Syracuse women’s lacrosse 19-9 in semifinal, ends SU’s season for 4th straight year
Daily Orange File Photo
CHESTER, Pa. — Again and again Maryland fans cheered. A revolving door of players in white jerseys ran to hug awaiting teammates. Syracuse tried switching goalies, faceguarding different players, anything.
For the first time this season, Syracuse found itself in a nightmare where nothing worked.
The SU senior class that brought the program to consistent national relevance, but failed to win in the biggest moments, had a final chance to reverse that narrative. But after the first few minutes, the result was never in doubt. In nine tries, the seniors never beat Maryland.
“(Maryland) is a step ahead of everybody right now,” SU head coach Gary Gait said. “We were just hoping to trip them up, that they had an off game. It didn’t happen for us.”
Last year, Maryland had to stall ball to beat Syracuse. This year, the clock ran on its own.
With the mercy rule running clock on for a good portion of the second half, the Orange fell to the Terrapins on the season’s final weekend for the fourth year in a row. No. 1-seeded Maryland (22-0, 5-0 Big Ten) steamrolled fourth-seeded Syracuse (19-6, 5-2 Atlantic Coast), 19-9, on Friday night in front of a crowd of 7,906 at Talen Energy Stadium. SU and UMD played comparable games in terms of draw controls, groundballs and shots. But Maryland simply overwhelmed SU in the Orange’s worst loss since 2011.
“Maryland stepped on the field with a level of confidence of the defending national champions,” Gait said. “They made very few mistakes. It’s very hard to get to No. 1 and very few teams do it in women’s sports. I worked at Maryland when we won seven in a row. You get a level of confidence … that allows you to build confidence to the young players.”
Syracuse star Kayla Treanor compared Maryland to Connecticut women’s basketball, that when a women’s team wins, they dominate for a long time. The Orange doesn’t have that mentality yet, she said.
In an effort to disrupt the confidence, SU threw multiple defensive schemes at Maryland, faceguarding three players or none or some combination. The Terrapins solved each one.
Alice Mercer, UMD’s All-American defender who faceguarded Treanor all night, said her team did not prepare for any specific player. Maryland practiced its defensive slides and doubles normally. Mercer held Syracuse’s career points’ leader to a single goal.
The Terrapins took advantage of Syracuse’s different defenses. When SU shut off three players, UMD head coach Cathy Reese pulled the three out and said she had confidence in her other four players to use the extra space to dodge and produce.
Neither Jen Giles nor Taylor Hensh had started a single game this season but they combined for five goals in the first half.
Syracuse goalie Allie Murray did not make a save on the 10 shots she faced in the first — and 13 she faced in the game. Gait lifted the Notre Dame transfer with four minutes before halftime in favor of Bri Stahrr, who hadn’t played in nearly two months.
The Orange trailed 10-3 at the break. In 25 halves played against Maryland in Gait’s tenure, Syracuse had never scored seven goals.
The Orange needed something different. But it got more of the same.
Murray played almost 10 more minutes in the second half. She saw three shots and three goals. Stahrr re-entered.
This was supposed to be the season to break the cycle.
Maryland returned five starters. Syracuse returned double that, added an aggressive goalkeeper with experience and put its best player on the draw control. Fusing freshman talent on offense and defense — Nicole Levy and Alexa Radziewicz, respectively — with veteran units gave the Orange depth.
There were stumbles, like losing three of five in March, but the pieces added up to Syracuse playing its best lacrosse heading into the tournament.
“It’s do-or-die at this point,” SU assistant coach Michelle Tumolo said before the tournament. “If there’s a year we could do it, it’s this year. We have everything we need.
“It’s championship or bust.”
The Syracuse coaching staff watched calmly from the sideline on Friday. There was no yelling, no frantic huddles, no pointing fingers despite a 57-15 disparity in fouls. Tumolo spent most of the game with her hands clasped above her head on her flat-brimmed hat, seemingly in exasperation.
The coaching staff watched as Syracuse’s slowly slipped away.
The loss means the best player in program history finished her career without the only award she ever wanted. It means the No. 1 recruiting class of 2012 finished without ever finishing a season No. 1 in college. It means a program defined by success until the season’s final weekend finished another year without a championship.
“I hope the senior class wouldn’t be remembered (for never being able to beat Maryland),” Treanor said. “I think we were pretty good. We always ended up short. Real close though.”
Before Maryland annually ended the Orange’s season, it was Northwestern. Before Treanor left Syracuse without a national title, it was greats Alyssa Murray, Katie Rowan and Tumolo.
“One… More… Time!” the red-and-white section of the stands yelled.
Under the brightest lights women’s lacrosse has to offer, players in blue jerseys with orange numbers walked off the field disappointed. The location, final score, and names of those players mattered little.
On Friday night, this season ended the same way as the past three. Like it always has for Syracuse.
Published on May 27, 2016 at 10:21 pm