Women's Lacrosse

Syracuse women’s lacrosse defense gets torched in 19-9 loss to Maryland in Final Four

Daily Orange File Photo

Syracuse allowed a season-high 19 goals to Maryland on Friday night. For the fourth straight time, the Terrapins ended the Orange's season.

CHESTER, Pa. — Brenna Rainone looked stunned, angry and on the verge of tears all at the same time. Maryland’s Jen Giles had just scored off of a free-position shot, building an eight-goal lead over Syracuse with just under four minutes left in the first half.

While Giles ran back to celebrate with her fellow Terrapins, SU’s defenders started pointing fingers. Senior midfielder Erica Bodt was frantically pointing to the left side of the field, seemingly upset that Rainone and the rest of the defense hadn’t slid there. As Rainone was fuming by herself, goalie Alyssa Murray walked off the field and was replaced by freshman Bri Stahrr, who was making her first appearance since April 9.

“When we could get big (goal-scoring) runs tonight, it only feeds into the positive energy that we already had from the beginning,” Maryland’s Taylor Cummings said.

As Maryland’s positive energy kept flowing, Syracuse’s defense was crumbling. The same unit that held Stony Brook and Southern California — two top-seven offenses nationally — to four and five goals in the first half, respectively, had just given up its 10th. The same unified group that was huddling up after every goal allowed, talking about how to fix mistakes, was divided and broken.

No. 4 seed Syracuse’s (19-6, 5-2 Atlantic Coast) defense utilized different styles throughout the first 30 minutes. But no matter what it tried, it couldn’t stop the offensive blitz put forth by No. 1 seed Maryland (22-0, 5-0 Big Ten) en route to allowing a season-high 19 goals in a 19-9 loss in the NCAA tournament semifinals Friday night at Talen Energy Stadium.

With the Orange faceguarding either two or three UMD players in the first half, there were plenty of holes open for the rest of the Terrapins.

UMD scored six goals in the first 12 minutes. Those goals came from five different players and only Zoe Stukenberg’s came from one of Maryland’s top three scorers.

“(We) knew we would see some different looks from them defensively, but our team was prepared and we were ready for this game, we were ready for anything we could have seen,” UMD head coach Cathy Reese said.

The breakdown in the defense was only compounded by Syracuse goalie Allie Murray’s inability to stop any of the Terps’ shots. Some, like Stukenberg’s goal, came after the Terrapins had gotten so far behind the Orange defense that Murray didn’t have much of a chance, but others she simply couldn’t deny.

Murray last played at Notre Dame in 2014 before joining the Orange for one final season. In her last-ever start for the Fighting Irish, she allowed six goals and was pulled after eight minutes. On Friday, she was pulled just before the end of the first half, then reinserted to start the second half before being yanked for good 10 minutes later without recording a single save all game.

“We kind of left Allie Murray in a vulnerable situation, especially early in the game,” SU head coach Gary Gait said. “… (Maryland shooting) 10-for-13 in the first half is pretty impressive, pretty amazing actually.”

The 10 first-half goals the Terps scored were the most SU had allowed in a half all season. And things didn’t improve in the second. As Syracuse halted the faceguards, Maryland’s stars did their damage. Cummings and Megan Whittle, the top two goal-scorers for UMD, each scored three of their four goals in the second half.

After a Bodt score cut the deficit to five, Maryland went on a game-clinching 5-0 run — with each goal coming from either Cummings or Whittle — that turned on the 10-goal mercy rule running clock and effectively ended Syracuse’s season.

“When I’m faceguarded, I’ll watch my team do work,” Cummings said emphatically. “… You can try to take one of us out of the game and we’ll have six others who’ll put it in the back of the net.”

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