Terps, Orange to play for lacrosse title
TOWSON, Md. -- Syracuse and Maryland will face off again Sunday in their second lacrosse championship game in less than a month. Maryland defeated Syracuse 13-7 for the ACC championship on April 27. This time, the teams are competing for the national title.
Syracuse, a newcomer to the ACC, will face the Terrapins, who are departing the conference, in Sunday night's NCAA championship at Johnny Unitas Stadium.
The Orange dropped their sticks 16 times on Friday afternoon, storming past the Virginia Cavaliers 16-8. Syracuse is an up-and-coming program, vying for its first national title in a conference laden with 14 national championship trophies.
Friday night, the Orange looked like they had been an ACC lacrosse powerhouse all along, handily knocking off the Cavaliers. However, getting a shot at a national title, only their second trip to the finals, is the result of years of hard work.
"Getting to this point is a culmination of not just the group that's on the field," Syracuse coach Gary Gait said, "but it's really the players who came before them that allowed us to recruit these players by being exceptional student-athletes and doing their job when they were at Syracuse."
The Cavaliers, who had won eight of their previous 10 games, weren't able to find that same stride against the Orange. But it wasn't because of a lack of preparation on their part, coach Julie Myers said.
"I give Syracuse all the credit in the world for jumping out to a lead and really having a very dominant game all over the field," Myers said.
Syracuse's offensive outburst was led by senior Alyssa Murray and sophomore Kayla Treanor, who combined for 10 goals. Murray and Treanor were involved in 13 of the 16 Syracuse goals, either scoring or assisting.
"We really had to focus today to get the job done. Now that we're here, it feels great," Gait said.
Syracuse has been preparing for the championship game all season.
"This has been our big goal. It's nice to soak this moment in and go into the game and play hard," senior defender Kasey Mock said.
Before they can bring the national championship trophy back to New York, the Orange will have to get through top-seeded Maryland. The Terrapins beat the Orange twice this season, including in the ACC title game.
Maryland is back to try to claim its 11th national title after beating future Big Ten rival Northwestern 9-6.
"Knowing that Northwestern did hold the ball for periods of time, the hard part with that is then we get it down on offense and if we don't score, we're back playing defense again," Maryland coach Cathy Reese said.
Northwestern applied strong pressure throughout the game, scoring two goals in the final six minutes. However, the Wildcats received three yellow cards in the final three minutes, ending their hopes for a comeback.
"We had some chances and we didn't capitalize on them. We still played a great half but I think if we had capitalized we would have gained a little bit more momentum," Northwestern coach Kelly Amonte Hiller said.
Northwestern's strong defensive pressure held the Terps to their second lowest scoring game of the season (Maryland beat Princeton just 8-7 on April 9). And unlike Syracuse's offense that was dominated by Treanor and Murray, the Terrapins' offense was truly a team effort. Five players scored the nine goals, led by junior midfielder Kelly McPartland's three goals.
"I'd say our team isn't really that slow pace type of team," McPartland said. "We like to run and gun, we like to go fast. At the end, we pulled it out. Any one of our offensive players can score and are all super fast."
And while the games that got Maryland and Syracuse to the finals could not have been more different, both teams have their sights set for Sunday and one last ACC matchup.