Syracuse Runs Out of Depth in Another NCAA Title Game Loss


Syracuse's Gracy Fahey handles the ball under pressure from Boston College's Belle Smith in the NCAA championship game Sunday at Towson's Johnny Unitas Stadium.

TOWSON, Md. —  One of them was going to finally reach the mountaintop. The other’s extended final four agony was going to continue.

Boston College finally broke through in its fourth consecutive NCAA championship game, defeating Syracuse 16-10. For the Orange, it was another chapter in their legacy of championship weekend defeats.

“We did everything we could,” Syracuse coach Gary Gait said. “They were a really good offense that can put the ball in the back of the net. … I think our offense kind of sputtered when we went down a player, and that really made a difference.”

Perhaps no two teams understand each other the way these two teams do. While the Eagles, led by coach Acacia Walker-Weinstein, finally pulled it off, the Orange are still seeking that elusive first title.

Syracuse fell to 0-3 in NCAA finals, having finished as runner-up in 2012 and 2014. Gait has led the Orange to the final four eight times since taking over the program in 2008.

“They did an amazing job, and I love what she’s done with the program,” Gait said. “She’s an amazing young coach. I congratulated her and wished her the best and thanked her for being such an important person in the game of lacrosse.”

Without Megan Carney and Emily Hawryschuk, Syracuse’s depth was challenged entering the postseason.

The Orange had answered that call every time they had to. In their NCAA semifinal win over Northwestern on Friday, Meaghan and Emma Tyrrell’s performances in particular rose up the Syracuse offense.

It wasn’t so simple Sunday.

Emma Tyrrell barely had a chance to get action before she was out of the game, with two yellow cards just over halfway into the opening stanza.

“We led with a couple of freshmen,” Gait said. “We needed a righty, and they had been playing pretty well so they try to step in and fill that role. Emma, with the way she’s been playing, she’s tough to replace. Too much to replace, obviously."

The yellow cards seemed to shift the energy in a way the Orange couldn’t recover from.

“We couldn’t catch many breaks, and we didn’t, especially in the second half,” Gait said. “It just provided opportunities the other way. There’s a lot of what-ifs, if we got more calls or whatever it was, but you can’t talk about that, because that’s not what happened.”

Syracuse struggled to hold the ball at all in the second half. Boston College piled on, earning mostly all the possessions, especially early on. Whether they were gassed or just unable to compete with a higher-energy BC team, when the Orange depth was challenged this time, it was too much to overcome.

As the Eagles ate up the possession clock in the second half, the Orange had no answers. Draw controls were essentially even at 14-13 in favor of the Eagles. Syracuse just couldn’t make the most of quick possessions, and the Eagles’ defense and goaltending had a say in that as well.

“The depth just came up a bit short,” Gait said. “We got in a situation where we were pressing it and trying to score, and that meant some bad decisions on some feeding and shooting.”

The Orange went 12 minutes between goals going into the second half, after Emma Ward netted one on a free-position shot with 23 seconds left in the half. They didn’t score again until 17:44 was left in the game.

Another long drought of 10 minutes plagued them while the Eagles continued to generate offense. Syracuse finished with 10 goals, its fourth-lowest total of the season. The Orange have lost three of the four games where they scored 10 goals or fewer.

The depth beyond the Tyrells didn’t do much after the first half; Ward finished with two goals, as did Sam Swart, who had a strong tournament. Even Meaghan Tyrell finished with just one goal and an assist in the title game.

The season was tough for the Orange with injuries, and dealing with the pandemic as well. That they made a run through all the adversity was incredible in its own right.

“It was a hard year. It took a lot of buy-in,” Syracuse goalie Asa Goldstock said. “To even get here and fight off all the outside noise, it’s really hard. This year was really hard.”

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