(Inside Lacrosse Photo: Kathryn Riley) Three overtime games highlighted the first round of the Division I NCAA Tournament, but the top
No. 5 Syracuse at No. 4 Northwestern, Saturday at 1:00pm CT How Syracuse Got Here: Days after learning she was not a Tewaaraton finalist, Emily Hawryschuk poured in five goals, and Syracuse never fell behind in a 14-8 win over Georgetown Sunday. The Orange limited Georgetown to 8-for-24 shooting, as Grace Fahey and Sarah Cooper caused two turnovers apiece.
How Northwestern Got Here: Northwestern raced out to an 8-0 lead and went up 9-2 on a Selena Lasota goal with 27 minutes to play. Though Notre Dame rattled off the next four goals in five minutes to bring the Irish within three, 9-6, Northwestern charged back with a 3-0 run, which proved to be enough for the 13-10 win.
Key Number for Syracuse: 3. Syracuse has beaten Northwestern three times in the last four meetings after starting the all-time series 1-7. A win Saturday would be the Orange’s first in Evanston, Ill., where it is 0-5.
Key Number for Northwestern: 17.63. Northwestern is averaging 17.63 goals per game, which is second in the land behind Jacksonville’s 18 goals per game. Lasota leads the way with 79 goals, and freshman Izzy Scane ranks second nationally among freshmen with 56 tallies.
Where This Game Will Be Won: Syracuse’s Defensive End
When these two teams met in February, Northwestern held a 20-11 lead in draw controls, but Syracuse won 15-14. The Wildcats have Brennan Dwyer, who is fifth nationally in draws per game at 8.53. Though each team wins about 53 percent of its draw opportunities, the Wildcats may have the advantage in the circle. They also hold more than a three-goal edge in scoring offense over the Orange, which averages 14.05 goals per game. But ‘Cuse has the upper-hand in scoring defense, 10.15-12.89, and held Georgetown to single digits. So, we know both teams can score, but even if Northwestern winds up with more draws, a 60-minute lockdown game from Syracuse’s defense could neutralize that deficit. Though the Orange are coming off a solid defensive effort and have the ACC Rookie of the Year in Cooper, who leads the team with 32 caused turnovers, it has been inconsistent at times. Syracuse jumped out to a 7-2 lead against Boston College Feb. 16 and led the Eagles 13-10 with 8:10 left in the ACC semifinals April 26 and lost both games. It also staved off late runs from Virginia Tech April 3 and Virginia April 24. To be fair, the offense went cold in some of those games, too, failing to take advantage of caused turnovers and other opponent miscues. But in Northwestern, Syracuse will see a fellow top-five team with a well-oiled offense and group of Wildcats who have never played in a Final Four, including fifth-year Lasota. The Orange will need to stay consistent Saturday.
Top five teams collide when No. 5 Syracuse takes on No. 4 Northwestern in the 2019 NCAA Women's Lacrosse Tournament quarterfinals on Saturday, May 18. Opening draw in Evanston, Ill. is set for 2 p.m. Eastern time.