Women's Lacrosse

Syracuse women’s lacrosse overcomes poor performance at the draw circle to slip past USC, 12-11

Liam Sheehan | Staff Photographer

Kayla Treanor struggled on the draw, but Syracuse overcame its problems with turnovers and transition goals.

Syracuse’s Kayla Treanor and Southern California’s Michaela Michael stood at midfield. Sudden-death overtime in the NCAA quarterfinals was about to begin and the two stars were getting ready for the biggest draw of the game.

Treanor has been a force in her first full season at the draw circle, leading the country by a wide margin with 197 draw controls coming into the game. She relished the opportunity to be in this clutch situation.

“When the game gets down to the wire it comes down to who can get control of the draw,” Treanor said earlier in the season. “You feel that pressure a lot, it’s definitely an added pressure, but it’s nice to have control over that.”

But USC controlled the draw. And even though the Trojans came into the matchup as the 26th-ranked team in draw controls, that one marked No. 14 on the game. The Orange only had 11.

Entering the game, the No. 4 seed Syracuse (19-5, 2-2 Atlantic Coast) had won more draws than its opponents in 18 of its 23 games. But SU didn’t find that same success in this matchup. Instead, the SU defense created timely turnovers and found success on the clear and in its transition offense. Those factors helped lead the Orange to a 12-11 victory over fifth-seeded USC (20-1, 6-0 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) in the NCAA quarterfinals in the Carrier Dome.

“It was just getting (the balls) on the circle and trying to come up with them as a unit,” USC head coach Lindsey Munday said. “… and Michaela did an incredible job of where we wanted her to get it.”

The Trojans won seven draws to Syracuse’s four in the first half. Without as many possessions, against the country’s No. 1 defense, the Orange would have to find a way to salvage as many goals as possible.

Syracuse scored just five goals in the first half, but that way came via transition opportunities after a successful clear. SU’s first goal came on a free position. After that, the next four goals all came immediately after the Orange successfully cleared the ball. Three of those four came in less than a minute after the clear, and two of those three came within nine seconds of the clear.

“They pressure down so it leaves people open if you can kind of get through their pressure ride,” senior defender Mallory Vehar said. “I don’t think we cleared as well as we’d like to but there were some transition goals which were good.”

SU, and specifically Vehar, found success causing turnovers in key moments of the game. Vehar caused a turnover with just over two minutes left in the half and USC leading by one, and it led to the Orange’s tying fifth goal. Soon after the Trojans won the opening draw in overtime Vehar caused another turnover.

Syracuse’s defense wasn’t perfect against the Trojans, but it made big plays when it needed to and helped the Orange overcome its lack of success in other areas.

“We’ve dominated the draw and lost a game before. It comes down to it’s a lot more than just the draw,” Treanor said.

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