The Way She Sees It: Meaghan Tyrrell, Syracuse's Unassuming Superstar

Meaghan Tyrrell never wanted to be the “it” kid.

At Mount Sinai High School on Long Island, she made varsity in ninth grade and learned from future Florida great Sydney Pirreca. In 2019, Tyrrell arrived at Syracuse as one of the nation’s top incoming attackers, along with classmate Megan Carney, but it was Emily Hawryschuk’s offense.

None of that ever bothered her.

“Being a good teammate above everything else is what people will look back on,” Tyrrell said. “I want to be that teammate people can go to if they have a question about something or want to do extra shooting. I thought being a good teammate was more important than being an ‘it’ player.”

But the Orange have turned to Tyrrell to be just that amid a flurry of injuries over the last two seasons. Last year, her performance earned her a spot on the stage as a Tewaaraton Award finalist in Washington, D.C. Considering every other finalist graduated — including two-time winner Charlotte North — the lacrosse world now looks to Tyrrell to carry the mantel.

She’s not just Syracuse’s “it” kid. She’s the USA Lacrosse Magazine Preseason Player of the Year.

“The only player I’ve ever seen that is like her is Katie Rowan.”

— Kayla Treanor

Tyrrell’s career stats pop off the page, and they show she’s not a one-dimensional player. She enters the year ranked sixth among Syracuse’s career leaders in points (308), seventh in goals (202) and fifth in assists (106)

At just 5-foot-2, Tyrrell appears unimposing. She fooled Al Bertolone, Mount Sinai’s head coach, who first saw her play club lacrosse for the Yellow Jackets. Bertolone left Tyrrell off the varsity roster in eighth grade. He still rues the choice.

“One of the only regrets I have in my coaching career is not bringing her up as an eighth-grader,” Bertolone said. “She was small. Not tiny, but we thought we could get away with another year of her on JV.”

Not making a varsity high school team before you’re actually in high school wouldn’t be a big deal for most kids. But Long Island isn’t like most places when it comes to lacrosse. The sport holds as much esteem here as horrific traffic, Billy Joel and untoasted bagels.

And Tyrrell isn’t like most players. Competitiveness is part of her DNA, but so is using disappointment as motivation.

“I was sad, but not making varsity wasn’t something I was going to let affect me moving forward,” Tyrrell said. “I wanted to prove myself more.”

Tyrrell got the call-up to varsity as a freshman in 2015, but the offense continued to flow through Pirreca and Kasey Mitchell. Tyrrell took a backseat, played a complementary role and won her first of three high school state titles. Pirreca and Mitchell turned their tassels that spring and handed Tyrrell the keys to the offense. She took it from there, winning two more state titles and finishing her high school career with 214 points.

“She was unstoppable,” Bertolone said. “Teams would try to block her off, and we did a lot of things with picks and screens to get her free. In 2017, she single-handedly brought us up by the bootstraps and brought us back. She was dominant.”

Like many college players today, Tyrrell grew up watching Syracuse legends Kayla Treanor and Michelle Tumolo. The two were known for their pizzazz, which was tailor-made for the days when YouTube was still something of a novelty. Tyrrell saw in Tumolo a similarly smallish (5-foot-4) athlete who competed with outsized confidence. It gave her confidence she could make it at the Division I level. But in high school, Tyrrell was developing a style all her own.

“She started doing tremendous things with dodging,” Bertolone said. “She had eyes in the back of her head. She found open people all the time.”

College coaches started recruiting Tyrrell after her freshman year. A huge fan of Syracuse’s free-flowing offense, she accepted Gary Gait’s offer. Since she graduated in 2018, Bertolone admits he’s been unable to use the same playbook without her. But his loss has been Syracuse’s gain.

“Her release looks the same no matter where she is going to shoot the ball,” second-year Syracuse head coach Kayla Treanor said. “It’s really hard to track, even with her dodging, it looks like she is slowing down to stop and move the ball. The next thing you know, she’s by somebody.”

Tyrrell’s name doesn’t necessarily carry the same weight as did that of Treanor or Tumolo. And she’s no North, who graduated as the NCAA Division I all-time leader in goals and transcended the women’s game as one of the most must-watch players in the sport, period. But Treanor said her unassuming, steadying play reminds her of another Syracuse great whose jersey now hangs from the Dome’s rafters.

“The only player I’ve ever seen that is like her is Katie Rowan, where it’s like, ‘She just had seven goals. How did that happen?’” Treanor said.

Rowan, who graduated in 2009, was one of the first big names at Syracuse during an era when Northwestern won it all, all the time. And Tyrrell has spent much of her career in North’s shadow, at least on the national stage. But opposing defenders know all about Tyrrell.

If you follow women’s lacrosse, you probably know the story. Hawryschuk went down with an ACL injury in the first game of the 2021 season. Tyrrell and Carney took over — until Carney tore her ACL in April. Tyrrell put the team on her back, becoming the ninth Orange player to amass 100 points in a single season (112) and leading the team to a national title game against all odds.

“There was a next-player-up mentality,” Tyrrell said. “I realized I had to step up and fill in those shoes.”


The year was tough, and not just because of the injuries. COVID-19 still ran rampant, caused last-minute schedule changes and altered how student-athletes could interact in groups and even take classes. Through it all, Tyrrell leaned on mindfulness, a hallmark of Gait’s tenure as head coach that she credits for giving her a mental boost during adversity.

“The biggest thing I focus on is visualization,” Tyrrell said. “I am a big believer in it. When you take an 8-meter and are lining up, picturing how the play is going to go helps you be confident when you step up to the line.”

Last year, Tyrrell had to step up again when her sister Emma Tyrrell and Emma Ward — two critical pieces to the Syracuse offense in 2021 — sustained season-ending injuries. This time, it felt like muscle memory.

“We had been in that position before and pushed through and persevered,” Tyrrell said.

Tyrrell took over with 78 goals and 33 assists, becoming only the third Syracuse player to surpass 100 points in multiple seasons, joining Rowan and Alyssa Murray. She drew a faceguard or the top defender in every game.

Scouting reports centered on Tyrrell. She kept scoring anyway.

“Opposing teams were throwing everything they had at her,” Treanor said. “To do what she did last year is really incredible. Against top opponents, she took her game to another level and put the team on her back.”

Tyrrell’s deceptively unassuming style may benefit her on the field. But when Treanor challenged her to be more vocal, Tyrrell was up to the task. She didn’t just watch Tumolo’s stick-bending moves when watching Syracuse games growing up.

“Tumolo was a great leader,” Tyrrell said. “You could tell by the way people looked at her. I had a lot of thoughts. Instead of saying them, I’d internalize them. I’ve grown more comfortable last season and in the fall.”

In the end, it helped her become a better teammate, a goal she holds in higher regard than any statistics or awards.

As Tyrrell readies for her fifth and final season, the legacy question is fair. As is what’s next. She played for the U.S. Sixes team in The World Games last summer and could eclipse her heroes in Syracuse’s record book. Another 100-point season would have her graduate as the program’s all-time points leader, surpassing Treanor (393) and Rowan (396).  But Treanor said Tyrrell’s book has more than one final chapter and an epilogue to be written in 2023.

“She has so much time left to write her own story,” Treanor said. “She’s had a wonderful career. There’s so much more in her. Meaghan is a strong piece to this group. I believe in her. She has so much potential. I can’t wait to see what she is going to do.”

Sometimes when Tyrrell closes her eyes, she allows herself to visualize one thing in particular: Syracuse’s first national title.

“There’s so much history with Syracuse being so close to winning a national championship and not being able to get over that ledge,” she said. “That’s something we think about. We know it’s a process. Everyone is committed. It’s a long season. But definitely, I visualize it.”