ACC champions for the first time, Boston College is in the Final Four for the sixth straight full season.

An A-to-Z Guide to Division I Women's Championship Weekend

A new champion in Division I women’s lacrosse will be crowned this weekend. You can thank Denver’s stifling zone defense for that one — it held defending champion North Carolina scoreless in the final 35 minutes of Thursday’s quarterfinal. 

The remaining field is full of storylines: From the potential for first-time champions to the opportunity to watch four of five Tewaaraton Award finalists put the finishing touches on their resumes (and, in some cases, college legacies). 

Let’s delve deeper into the Final Four players and narratives to watch with our annual A-to-Z guide to the Final Four.

A is for All Aboard. Get ready for the train references. Izzy Scane (more on her later) conducts the “Scane Train” for Northwestern. Syracuse head coach Kayla Treanor also earned the nickname “K-Train” during her playing career for the Orange, which included countless made-for-YouTube goals and a trip to the title game in 2014.

B is for Belle Smith. If there were a sixth Tewaaraton finalist, it would probably be Belle Smith. The Eagles midfielder may not stand on the stage with the five finalists in D.C. in a few weeks, but BC is playing on the national semifinal stage largely because of Smith, who racked up a game-high eight points on five goals and three assists in Thursday’s quarterfinal win over Notre Dame. She has 50 goals and 27 assists this year. In short, underestimate her at your own risk.

C is for Cassidy and Courtney Weeks. C can also be for clutch, which the Weeks sisters have been this season. They combined for three of the final four goals in BC’s comeback win over previously undefeated Syracuse to end the regular season. Courtney added three assists in that game. The sisters also tallied two goals each in BC’s ACC championship game win over UNC, and Courtney netted a hat trick against Notre Dame.

D is for Delaney Sweitzer. Syracuse’s dynamic offense gets the lion’s share of the attention, but Delaney Sweitzer has been a difference-maker in net for the Orange. The first-team All-American has produced a 51.3 save percentage, the seventh-best in Division I, and earned ACC Goalkeeper of the Year.

A new champion in Division I women’s lacrosse will be crowned this weekend.

E is for Erin Coykendall. It’s hard to say a Tewaaraton finalist flies under the radar. But that’s what happens when you play with Scane. Coykendall is a top threat in her own right, entering the weekend with 53 goals and 45 assists. She has tallied multiple points in all 20 games for the Wildcats.

F is for first timers. Denver is making its first appearance in the Final Four in program history. Syracuse is vying for its first-ever national title.

G is for Julia Gilbert. Julia Gilbert scored two of the Pioneers’ final four goals to help them complete the history-making comeback against defending champion UNC. The senior attacker leads Denver with 58 goals and 66 points, something the Pioneers needed with the graduations of last year’s offensive leader Bea Behrins (96 points).

H is for Hot Pink. That’s the name Denver coined for its defense a few seasons ago. According to head coach Liza Kelly, the program kept nicknaming its unit after a color. After running out of ideas, the Pioneers went with “hot pink” and haven’t looked back. It’s served them well — they haven’t yielded double-digit goals all season and currently lead Division I in scoring defense (5.83). The fans have bought in, as well as the players, proudly donning hot pink apparel in the stands.

I is for Izzy Scane. Because who else would it be for? Scane traded her stick for an iPad last season when an ACL injury sidelined her for the year. But the train is back on track. A Tewaaraton frontrunner alongside Syracuse’s Meaghan Tyrrell, Scane leads Division I in goals per game (4.94) and points per game (6.67). And we get one more year of her in 2024.

J is for Jenn Medjid. One of four Tewaaraton finalists still standing, Jenn Medjid leads the Eagles with 77 goals and 100 points. She poured in four goals and three assists against Notre Dame and currently sits fifth nationally in goals (3.85) and points (5) per game.

K is for Kelly (x2) and Kayla. Knocking off a few with one letter here. Kelly Amonte Hiller leads Northwestern to its 14th Final Four, including four straight. Denver coach Liza Kelly, on the other hand, has guided the Pios to their first. Kayla Treanor hopes to lead Syracuse to its first-ever national title.

L is for Molly Laliberty. Molly Laliberty starred at Division III Tufts but took the opportunity to use her graduate year at Northwestern. And she’s been fantastic. The second-team All-Big Ten netminder has produced a 47.1 save percentage and stopped 11 of the 20 shots she faced as the Wildcats reclaimed their Big Ten tournament title last month.

M is for Meaghan Tyrrell. Syracuse’s all-time leading scorer and a back-to-back Tewaaraton finalist has been one of few players to stay healthy for the Orange in the last two seasons. In 2023, most of the gang is still here, giving Tyrrell a shot to go out with one more historic feat: Syracuse’s first national title.

N is for Neon Green. The Pios have hot pink. Eagles fans don neon green, a tradition that started during the program’s first trip to the Final Four in 2017 as a way for players to find their families in the crowd.

O is for Olivia Adamson. The injury bug bit Syracuse this year when draw specialist Kate Mashewske suffered a season-ending lower-body injury. Sophomore Olivia Adamson stepped up, leading the Orange with 99 draw controls. Adamson also took charge offensively for Syracuse against James Madison. With Tyrrell guarded tightly and held scoreless, Adamson tallied four goals and two assists — the sophomore represents the future of the Orange offense.

P is for Purple Reign. Northwestern won seven titles from 2005-12 but has not returned to the title game since that win over Syracuse 11 years ago. Could 2023 represent a return to glory for the Wildcats?

Q is for questionable. Compared to other seasons, when the post-selection show takes were hotter than Scane’s offensive output, the Division I women’s bracket was mainly without controversy. One gripe: Denver, the nation’s only undefeated team, getting the No. 5 spot and having to play USC in the first round (and potentially Virginia in the second, though Albany took care of that). It was because of strength of schedule, even though the Pios beat Maryland and Boston College. The Pios didn’t complain, but they did settle that one — they’re one of the four best teams in the land in 2023.

R is Hailey Rhatigan. Northwestern was the lone team in last year’s semifinals without a game-changing transfer. This year, the Wildcats have two. We talked about Laliberty. Hailey Rhatigan, who starred at Mercer, is the other. Rhatigan took the field for the first time against Vanderbilt on March 4, and she’s made a significant impact on the Northwestern offense since, ranking second in goals (55) and third in points (66).


S is for Shea Dolce. Freshman goalie Shea Dolce got her first start against Clemson, which the Eagles won. Next came Denver — she lasted about 15 minutes in a loss. But Acacia Walker-Weinstein stuck with the rookie, and it’s paid off. The Eagles haven’t lost since. The last team to win a national championship with a rookie netminder was James Madison with Molly Dougherty in 2018.

T is for Treanor. Kayla Treanor is trying to orchestrate her alma mater’s first-ever national crown — she was on the BC sideline as an associate head coach when the Eagles beat the Orange in 2021.

U is for undefeated. Only one team in Division I holds this distinction, and it’s Denver at 22-0.

V is for voice messages. Liza Kelly had players leave themselves a voice message before the quarterfinals, letting everyone know they can’t talk because they’re playing for a national title. Hopefully, the players kept them handy, as they’ll need them this weekend.

W is for Walker-Weinstein. Acacia Walker-Weinstein has led Boston College on an incredible stretch of six-straight Final Fours. The Eagles are also vying for their sixth consecutive championship game appearance. She’s coached two Tewaaraton winners (Sam Apuzzo and two-time winner Charlotte North).

X is for “Watch Emma Ward from X.” Just do it. It’s fun.

Y is for youngsters. There are considerable veterans on all four remaining teams. But keep an eye on young talent. We covered Adamson for Syracuse. Denver goalie Emelia Bohi is fifth nationally in save percentage (52.6) and is only a sophomore. Mckenna Davis leads Boston College with 58 assists. And Madison Taylor (47 G, 17 A) of Northwestern is one of the best rookies in the country.

Z is for zone defense. Denver’s will go down in history.