Women's Lacrosse

Syracuse women’s lacrosse roundtable: Kayla Treanor, faceguards and more

Spencer Bodian | Staff Photographer

Kayla Treanor and Syracuse face Southern California in the NCAA quarterfinals on Saturday in the Carrier Dome. Treanor had her first game without a point this season in the second round on Sunday.

Syracuse (18-5, 5-2 Atlantic Coast) will face Southern California (20-0, 9-0 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) on Saturday in the NCAA quarterfinals. USC beat Duke, Northwestern, Stony Brook and Notre Dame this season. The Trojans beat Stanford in the second round of the NCAA tournament on Sunday, 14-8, and SU beat Stony Brook, 7-6. SU and USC face each other at noon in the Carrier Dome.

Amid SU’s postseason run, our beat writers answer three questions about the Orange.

1. How can Syracuse counter when teams faceguard Kayla Treanor like Stony Brook did?

Sam Fortier: You saw how Syracuse can counter on Sunday against Stony Brook. Syracuse has enough weapons to pull Treanor away from play for 95 percent of the game and still win. She still wins the draw and without her the Orange open up the offensive zone for its eight other double-digit goal scorers. Against SBU, five of SU’s seven goals were scored by midfielders, including one by Lisa Rogers who hasn’t started a game this season. It did take a while to get the offense in gear but while Treanor was faceguarded, SU beat the second-best defensive team in the country. There’s no reason they can’t beat the best.

Tomer Langer: Obviously, Treanor is the engine that makes the Syracuse offense move — her team leading 46 goals and 38 assists make that clear. But this offense also features three other players who have scored 40 or more goals in Nicole Levy (44), Riley Donahue (42) and Halle Majorana (40). In the Atlantic Coast Conference championship loss to North Carolina, Treanor only scored once but Majorana scored four times. There have been times this season when Treanor has taken over and gone solo, but a lot of the Orange’s goals are predicated on good ball movement and cutting. If teams are pulling a defender to faceguard Treanor, it should open up holes for the rest of the talented offense to go to work.

Liam Sullivan: Kayla Treanor, as good as she is, can’t be Syracuse’s end-all, be-all offensively. Syracuse needs to rely on its other weapons and trust that Halle Majorana, Riley Donahue and Nicole Levy can get the job done. Stony Brook didn’t reinvent the wheel by faceguarding Treanor. It’s time for the other players to step up, create in the open space and play like they did in the regular season.

2. Going forward, what is Syracuse’s biggest weakness?

S.F.: Syracuse has won, or had a good shot at winning, every game its played in for the last two months. The defense could cause a few more turnovers, but its limited opponents’ good looks on net. The best answer would be flipping the narrative from question 1 on its head. SU almost ran out of time against SBU to have its supporting cast step up. The offense looked discombobulated at times and it looked for a long while like the Orange wasn’t going to pull through. The role players and midfielders can score, yes, but relying on players who haven’t been looked to most of the season to carry that load could be a bit much to ask for two games in a row. They’ve shown they can do it, but the question remains: Can they do it again if needed?

T.L.: Closing out games. In 4 of the 5 Orange losses this season, including the last two losses to North Carolina, SU held a lead at some point in the second half. In the first loss to UNC, Syracuse allowed 5 goals in just over 13 minutes to make a 3-goal lead a 2-goal deficit. In the second loss, SU let a two-goal lead disappear in the final five minutes of the game before a miracle play forced overtime in an eventual loss. SU will have to be able to hold onto it’s second-half leads if it wants to advance in the tournament.

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Jessica Sheldon | Photo Editor

L.S.: Syracuse’s biggest weakness tends to arise in its biggest, and closest, games. A one-goal loss to North Carolina in the ACC tournament, a one goal loss in overtime to then-No. 3 Florida and a 14-9 defeat to No. 1 Maryland mark a few of the disappointments throughout the 2016 campaign. The Orange will need to gather its moxie and develop an ability to finish if its to accomplish its ultimate goal.

3. Given that Treanor didn’t do much against SBU for strategical reasons, how do you think she comes back and plays against USC?

S.F.: That’s the thing. She didn’t play poorly. One of the biggest reasons SU escaped the second round was because Treanor dominated the draw circle, 11-4, and gave SU plenty of chances on offense. She just wasn’t involved, and as long as Syracuse wins, she doesn’t care. Whether or not Treanor factors into the offensive zone — USC could very well copycat Stony Brook because of the Seawolves success for 50 minutes — her play will be crucial. If she has to step out and SU plays 6-on-6 offensively, so be it. There’s not much to come back from, just plugging away and doing whatever her team needs to advance to the next round … which she might notice could be against Maryland.

T.L.: Well, if USC faceguards Treanor the whole game, she might not do much again. But if the Trojans don’t do that, she should perform as well as she has all season, which is as one of the best players in the entire country. Treanor isn’t interested in padding her own stats — her 46 goals this year are actually a career low. She doesn’t have anything individually left to prove. She’ll impact the game as much as Syracuse needs her to, and should still be a powerhouse in the draw circle.

L.S.: Treanor will respond with a massive three-goal effort against USC. There’s simply too much at stake for Treanor not to put forth a great game and propel SU into the next round. If it doesn’t happen against USC, be ready for Treanor to have a massive game against UMD. If she doesn’t, the Orange are certain to fall to the Terrapins for the fourth year in a row.

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