Editors note: The game was moved from Friday to Saturday, Syracuse announced Thursday night.
The now-No. 9 Maryland women’s lacrosse team continued its troubling start to the season last weekend against top-ranked North Carolina, losing 19-6 on the road in an overall dominating effort by the Tar Heels.
The loss marked the largest margin of defeat in the storied rivalry and the largest defeat suffered by head coach Cathy Reese during her tenure in College Park, as well as the first time a Reese-led Terp team has dropped two consecutive games.
Maryland looked out of sorts against the top team in the nation, failing to piece together any substance on offense while also struggling to contain UNC’s scoring runs.
“We knew we were going to have some struggles early [in the season],” Reese said. “We just happen to dive into our schedule to be challenged pretty heavy from the beginning.”
The Terps have seen better days and they will look towards righting the ship in a pivotal road game against the No. 4 Syracuse Orange.
Saturday’s game will be held at the iconic Carrier Dome and will start at 3 p.m. ET.
Syracuse Orange (5-1, 0-0 ACC)
2019 record: 16-5, 5-2 ACC
Head coach Gary Gait took over at Syracuse in 2008. The former assistant coach at Maryland became the second coach in the school’s history and has taken the team to unforeseen heights. A former No. 1 overall pick in the National Lacrosse League, Gait guided the Orange to seven Final Fours in his 12 seasons as coach.
In 2019, Syracuse entered as the fifth-ranked team in the NCAA Tournament before being bounced in the quarterfinals by fourth-seeded Northwestern. Gait will look for better results in the 2020 postseason, and the fourth-ranked Orange are already off to a fast start this season.
Players to know
Senior attacker Emily Hawryschuk (No. 51) has been a swiss army knife for Syracuse since her freshman season. Hawryschuk ranked second on the team in points (48) and goals (38) in her first year for the Orange, followed by consecutive All-ACC First Team nods over her sophomore and junior campaigns. The senior has been on an absolute tear to start 2020. She leads the nation in goals with a whopping 30 in just six games and has contributed well in the draw control department as well with 16 on the season.
Sophomore defender Sarah Cooper (No. 26) was named to the 2020 Tewaaraton Award watch list on Feb. 13, and for good reason. In just her second season of collegiate lacrosse, Cooper has been an anchor to a solid Syracuse defense. The stats don’t do Cooper justice — in only her sophomore season she has emerged as a key leader for the Orange. Last season, Cooper led the team in caused turnovers with 33 and earned the ACC Rookie of the Year award.
Sophomore attacker Megan Carney (No. 22) is the perfect complementary piece to Hawryschuk on the Syracuse attack. The sophomore had a fantastic, well-balanced freshman campaign, tallying 32 goals, 24 assists and 56 points. Carney has 17 goals and 11 assists on the 2020 season, including recording six points on Feb. 24 against Colgate to bring her point total up to 28.
Facilitating the ball. The Orange keep their opponents at bay with a tenacious defense, but it’s their offense that has propelled them to a top-five ranking in the polls. Syracuse is tied for the fourth-best scoring margin in the nation while average nine assists per game — tied at eighth in the nation with Denver. The duo of Hawryschuk and Carney is able to create opportunities for one another and teammates, making for a feared offense that can attack at all angles.
Condensed schedule. The Orange have fared well so far this season, but the quantity of games played in such short order could be the team’s kryptonite on Friday. Following its home game against Maryland, Syracuse will only play at the Carrier Dome once more. Six games in and Gait’s team is at a solid 5-1. Down the line, it will pay its dividends wigh Orange will be more rested in between games later in the year, but for the time being, the team could be running on limited fuel.
Three things to watch
1. How will the Terps right the ship after its embarrassing 13-goal loss? This last one hurt for the Terps. Despite high expectations in the preseason for the defending national champions, last week’s loss to No. 1 North Carolina stung a bit extra, as the Terps suffered a 13-goal defeat on the road. With another tough road matchup next, will they be able to get back on track and start to build some momentum?
Freshman defender Emma Schettig has been a bright spot for the new look Maryland defense, and she believes that last week’s loss provided the unit with some valuable learning experiences that it will look to implement against Syracuse.
“Each team has their strengths and we kind of adjust for those strengths,” Schettig said. “Every week we’ll have just a tweak or so, but I think our core defense is still the same.”
2. Senior leadership will be a huge factor. Having lost a ton of starters from the previous year, Maryland was left scratching its heads a bit when it came to who would step up as a leader. The 1-2 start doesn’t help, but senior captain Brindi Griffin is looking to take the reigns as the fearless leader the Terps need now more than ever.
“Keeping the energy, I think that’s something huge that we’re trying to do coming off a loss like that,” Griffin said. “Just reminding everyone it’s a learning experience. We’re still so early in the season, we have so much time to learn and grow.”
Griffin will look to ignite a match in the Terrapins’ season as the young team will hit the road once again against a ranked opponent in Syracuse.
3. Will the offense make some tweaks? Schettig gave her insight on what the Maryland defense will do towards adjusting their output, but what tweaks will the offense make to improve their production? The Tar Heels scored as many goals (19) as the Terps had shots, so Maryland’s offensive struggles are glaring.
“We just kind of stood around and waited for someone else to do stuff and that’s something that we need to be accountable for,” Reese said. “That was something that you just really haven’t seen from this group before.”
The Terps need to spice up their offense, especially with their backs up against the ropes against a tough Syracuse defense.
“[We have] an opportunity with nothing to lose to put it all out there and see what we can do,” Reese said.”