Syracuse Takes Home 2015 #ACCWLAX Championship

Orange completes three-game tournament sweep of fellow ACC elite teams

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VIDEO: Treanor's Sudden-Victory Goal

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (theACC.com) – The path to an Atlantic Coast Conference Women’s Lacrosse Championship title is never easy, but this year’s Syracuse team may be remembered as one that set a new standard for running a gauntlet.

Kayla Treanor’s sudden victory goal following double-overtime lifted the sixth-seeded Orange to a 9-8 win over top-seeded North Carolina in Sunday’s final at Klockner Stadium. It followed a familiar script for the tournament MVP, who also delivered a sudden-victory game-winner in Thursday night’s win over third-seeded Boston College.

Syracuse – deceptively seeded sixth in the tournament field but ranked seventh nationally – defeated the nation’s fourth-ranked team (Boston College), third-ranked team (Duke) and second-ranked squad (North Carolina) in a span of less than 72 hours en route to capturing its first ACC women’s lacrosse championship in two seasons as an ACC member.

The Orange (14-6) has grown accustomed to grinding out tough wins – Sunday’s match was its 10th of theseason decided by a single goal – and a determined defensive effort and execution of the fundamentals paid dividends. Syracuse won 16 of 21 draw controls (nine by Kailah Kempney) and limited UNC to eight goals on 30 shots.

Orange keeper Kelsey Richardson made 10 saves Sunday, and her 29 for the Championship were one shy of the tournament record. Her efforts helped Syracuse prevail on a day Tar Heel counterpart Caylee Waters was equally effective with 11 saves, giving her 26 in three tournament games.

Halle Majorana delivered a hat trick, and Treanor finished with two goals and an assist despite being marked effectively much of the day by UNC defensive ace Courtney Waite. Treanor tied an ACC Women’s Lacrosse Championship record with six assists in her three games.

The Tar Heels (15-3) fell short in their bid for their first ACC Women’s Lacrosse Championship since 2002 despite setting a tournament record for goals scored with 44. Aly Messinger paced UNC on Sunday with a pair of goals and an assist, and Marie McCool also scored a pair of goals for the Tar Heels.

Syracuse looked as if it might be set to win in regulation when a flurry of three unanswered goals by Riley Donahue, Treanor and Majorana put the Orange in front 8-5 with 7:16 remaining.

But with Messinger scoring one goal and assisting on another, UNC scrapped back to tie the score at 8-8 by the end of regulation. UNC actually held possession with a shot at the winning score in the waning seconds, but Richardson made the stop on Kelly Devlin’s attempt.

The second overtime period ended in similar high drama as Syracuse’s Taylor Gait worked for a close-range shot that just beat the final horn but was smothered in goal by UNC’s Waters, setting up sudden victory and Treanor’s decisive heroics.

The teams were tied 3-3 at the end of the first half that saw no scoring in the final 11:05. With Kempney, Erica Bodt and Majorana each scoring goals within a span of less than seven minutes, Syracuse grabbed a 3-0 lead in the early going.

UNC counted with three-goal run of its own to tie the score at 3-3 behind two goals from McCool and another from Messinger, who ran down a ground ball off a Syracuse turnover and charged in for an unassisted score. 

The trio of Tar Heel goals came during a span of just over four minutes. The final 11 minutes of the half were ones of missed opportunities for both teams, as reflected by their six goals on 23 shots.

Sunday’s outcome, coupled with the ACC Men’s Lacrosse Championship title secured by the Orange earlier in the day at Chester, Pennsylvani, left Syracuse as just the third program in ACC history to sweep the women’s lacrosse and men’s championships, joining Virginia (2006) and Maryland (2011).

After entering the match ranked among the nation’s top seven ranked teams, UNC and Syracuse each anticipate high NCAA Tournament seedings when pairings are announced next weekend. The ACC is hopeful of placing as many as seven teams in the NCAA field.

The 2015 ACC Women’s Lacrosse All-Tournament Team:
Kayla Treanor, Syracuse (MVP)
Kelsey Richardson, Syracuse
Halle Majorna, Syracuse
Kailah Kempney, Syracuse
Mallory Vehar, Syracuse
Caylee Waters, North Carolina
Aly Messinger, North Carolina
Maggie Bill, North Carolina
Kelly Devlin, North Carolina
Kenzie Kent, Boston College
Kerrin Maurer, Duke
Barbara Sullivan, Notre Dame

QUOTES

Syracuse Head Coach Gary Gait

Opening Statement:

“That was an exciting game and just a great tournament. This was a great opportunity to play some teams that we’ve seen already, and all three of them had taken it to us in the regular season. All throughout the year I have said that we can beat anybody and we can lose to anybody, and this week was our week and we beat them all. To me it is unbelievable that this team can step up and beat the number four, the number three, and the number two teams in the country all in four days. It took character, heart, effort and believing that they could get it done. We’ve been through a lot this year, and we’ve had some tough games, but we stick together and just keep believing that we can do it. After a couple sudden victory overtime games and a win against duke and here we are. All great teams, the best teams in the country here in the ACC and it was a pleasure to be a part of it.”

“We’ve had 10 one goal games. I give this team a lot of credit, we weren’t making the plays during the regular season, a lot of times we had opportunities and it didn't happen. But we just continued to battle and work on things and try to improve. I think that has helped us in building some confidence, and they believe that they are going to win every game now, and that helps you in these tight games when you’ve been there so many times and you believe that you can get it done.”

On his team’s depth:
“It is nice to see everyone stepping up. Our second lien midfielders came through today. It was incredible to have six middies that went out and was effective against a top team in the country. I am so proud of them all being patient and now stepping up in the end of the season.”

On responding to an early deficit:
“We stayed patient and stuck to our game plan. Lacrosse is a game of runs, and we got on one and played smart. We focused on winning the next draw, the next possession, and the next goal. Those are the things that we didn’t get done in the beginning of the year. Today we made the plays we needed in order to win.”

Kelsey Richardson

 “I have all the faith in the world in our defense. We got together and just talked about it, and our thing is instant positive reaction. Our defense played great all game and I just told them to focus on that and I think that they really stepped up at the end of the game and we came up with a big stop. Obviously in overtime they played great as well.”

“Obviously it gives us an advantage that we have played them once before, I kind of know where they are looking to shoot. But I just focus on mentally preparing myself for these games and I think that it definitely helped that our team played such good team defense and put me in a position to make saves.”

Kayla Treanor

On defensive pressure:
“I think that we can use that to our advantage, and it is a team sport so that really just put me in a position to help my teammates and create good opportunities to help our offense.”

On the winning goal:
“Well Kailah Kempney got us the ball so obviously that was huge. We knew we needed to score so we just created space for me and I was able to get a good shot off. I think that Courtney (waite) is a great defender and North Carolina is a great team with a great overall defense, and she played well all day just like she has all season.”

Mallory Vehar:
“I think we just started to talk a little bit more. We play really strong team defense and I think we’re just starting to click. I think Kelsey has been stepping up and playing amazing, but our thing is all team defense and working together and we are just starting to gel.”

 

UNC Head Coach Jenny Levy

Opening Statement:

“I thought we gave a great team effort today. I thought we played great on the defensive end of the field and had a lot of stops but struggled on the draw controls. I thought we did a tremendous job of creating possessions for ourselves through our ride and our defensive stops. Caylee (Waters) had a lot to do with getting stops defensively, but you can’t shoot 8 for 30 and you can’t shoot 3 for 9 off the 8-meter and expect to win a championship game. We came off a great offensive showing on Friday, but today whether it was pipes, shooting at their goalie, who we credit for having a great game, but I thought we had some wide open looks that we didn’t convert on.”

“Of course its frustrating. I think that we can do better, our players think that and I know I believe that. In this type of game you have to have the courage to step up and finish a shot, whether you’ve got pressure on you or you’re one-on-one with the goalie, that's what makes great players great- you have to perform in clutch situations and unfortunately for us we didn’t handle that very well today.”

 

Aly Messinger:

On Syracuse’s defense:
“Nothing new, I think that it was the same defense that we saw last time. Like Coach said we just weren’t finishing, we had good looks and we just weren’t finishing them and that's why we lost.”

On UNC’s offense:
“We had been in pressure situtations before, we’re not new to them. We’re playing for an ACC championship so obviously we wanted it, and I thought we stepped it up a little in the last couple minutes, but it all came down to not finishing.”

Caylee Waters:

“As a goalie it is kind of easy, when a goal goes in, to let that get stuck in your head, but I’ve learned through experience that you just have to brush it off and move on and continue to focus on the game knowing you can’t change the past. I just stayed in the moment of the game instead of letting the past get to me.”

On the winning goal:
“Well I saw her do her typical rocker step, and this time she was at the center of the goal right in front of me instead of where she normally does it a little above the goal line. She just went back and forth with her stick and ripped one top corner.”