Adamson Seizes Opportunity, Shines for Syracuse When it Counts

PHOTO BY RICH BARNES

Olivia Adamson has taken advantage of more playing time since April 12.


Attacker Olivia Adamson has been pivoting since before she arrived on campus for her freshman year at Syracuse and hasn’t stopped. Adamson, who first picked up a stick as a 4-year-old in northern Virginia before moving to an emerging lacrosse state in Florida in first grade, committed to Syracuse as an eighth grader.

Gary Gait was the coach at the time. Adamson bought into what he was doing for the program and watched in awe as attackers like Kayla Treanor and Alyssa Murray competed in the 2012 NCAA semifinals. But last summer, Gait moved over to the men’s side, and the Orange brought in Treanor, at the time the women’s program’s all-time leading scorer. Adamson had been looking forward to playing for Gait, but she didn’t think twice about her commitment to Syracuse. Treanor’s collegiate career inspired her to don the Orange in the first place.

“[Treanor] was amazing at everything,” Adamson said. “She could take the draw. She could play anywhere. She was someone you couldn’t take your eyes off … She’s been my idol forever, and getting to be coached and have such a good relationship with your idol is something that is really special.”

But the team was different than the one Adamson thought she was committing to back in junior high. The pandemic and a series of injuries meant she was walking into a stacked attack that included a year of playing behind sixth-year Emily Hawryschuk and two years with All-Americans Meaghan Tyrrell and Megan Carney. She had to keep expectations about playing time in check.

“It was tough,” Adamson admitted. “I knew I was coming into such an experienced group of people. We filled out a questionnaire in July, and I wrote, ‘I honestly just want to contribute to the team in a meaningful way, whether that’s being the best scout player, being able to get some minutes — literally anything.’”

Adamson has contributed all right, particularly of late. Twenty-five of her 39 points have come since Syracuse’s win over Cornell on April 12. In a closer-than-expected NCAA first-round game against Fairfield, Adamson scored a career-high five goals, but she said she would never have had this success without the veterans starting in front of her.

“They’re so smart and composed in pressure situations,” Adamson said. “I’ve learned how to carry myself. They have given me so much confidence because of my ability to play and contribute and trust what I am seeing when I talk to them about stuff I am seeing on the field.”

Adamson’s role has changed in recent months. Last season, Hawryschuk and Carney tore their ACLs, prompting Emma Tyrrell and then-freshman Emma Ward to step up on attack. This season, the injury bug bit again — this time taking the two Emmas with it. Ward went first with a leg injury before the season started. Tyrrell sustained a lower-body injury in practice in April. Treanor called Adamson into her office.

“She was like, ‘This is a really great opportunity. We have a lot of confidence in you as a coaching staff and want you to be really successful. We want you to be in the best situation to help our team,’” Adamson said.







Treanor moved Adamson from offensive midfield to attack. The offense rallied around her, including Ward, who could relate. Before fall ball started, Ward told her to be ready for anything. As a freshman, Ward finished second on the team with 73 points and came through in pressure situations, tallying seven points in the NCAA quarterfinals against Florida and six points in a Final Four win over Northwestern. She wanted to see Adamson do the same.

“She talked to me about going full speed, being confident, shooting and knowing I am capable of being a contributor on offense,” Adamson said. “She’s helped me be super-confident and know I can hang.”

Hang, she has. In the Orange’s first game without Tyrrell, Adamson scored once and dished four assists to lead the team to a 20-9 win over Cornell. She followed up with a hat trick and one assist against Louisville. But it wasn’t smooth sailing from there on out. The Orange suffered a one-goal loss to Boston College to end the season and got upset by Virginia in the first round of the ACC tournament. Syracuse is determined not to let that happen again.

“We wanted to win an ACC championship, but we didn’t show up and play like it in that moment,” said Adamson, who had two goals and one assist in the loss. “We know now what it takes to win, or we’ll get sent home. Now, it’s for real. We don’t have another chance after this. That is something we talked about as a team.”

Syracuse had a close call against Fairfield. Leading by three with 7:23 to play, Fairfield scored the final three goals and closed the gap to one, 12-11, at 3:36 of the fourth quarter. The defense held firm in the end — and Syracuse needed every one of Adamson’s five goals to survive and advance in the first place.

“[Fairfield has] an amazing defense and put us in tough spots and played with a lot of pressure,” Adamson said. “We talked about being composed, going 100 percent, making them work and trying to exploit their mistakes. I think our offense as a whole did a really good job working together, and I just got to be the one that finished a lot of the plays in that game.”

Two days later, Syracuse took on a Princeton team playing on its home field because Syracuse could not meet the NCAA’s minimum requirements for lodging and therefore was unable to host. What’s more, the Tigers had added motivation — their coach, Chris Sailer, was set to retire after the final game. Princeton came out with all the momentum, going up 3-0 early.

“When we were down, the veterans were like, ‘We can’t wait. We need to start rolling, pushing their defense, scoring goals and making them uncomfortable,’” Adamson said. “We needed to make sure we got the best of their emotions.”

Syracuse rallied. Tyrrell’s five goals got the headlines, but Adamson scored three.

Next up: Northwestern. Adamson didn’t score when the two teams met March 1. Northwestern won it in overtime. The rookie is expecting another close one.

“They are super-physical and aggressive,” Adamson said. “We’ve been talking about coming in and playing our best game, staying composed and playing confident. We understand it’s going to be a tough game.”

Adamson is set on continuing the legacy Treanor helped start as a player and adding another chapter: National championships. And she’s looking forward to inspiring the next generation of Orange, just like Treanor, Meaghan Tyrrell, Carney and Hawryschuk did for her.

“Being able to bring in the next generation of Syracuse lacrosse players is something I am super-excited about,” Adamson said.

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