January 31, 2013

#LMranks: No. 2 Syracuse Orange (Women)

by Clare Lochary | LaxMagazine.com | Team Page/Schedule


Michelle Tumolo was the 2012 IWLCA Attacker of the Year and also led Syracuse in caused turnovers.
© Greg Wall

Lacrosse Magazine's preseason NCAA Division I Top 20 countdown concludes today with profiles of the second- and first-ranked teams in D-I men and women.

Check back Friday for our preseason player of the year picks and profiles, and next week for more preseason #LMranks extra content, including our "Best of the Rest" and rankings analysis. For more on our preseason rankings for all levels, visit LaxMagazine.com/LMranks. Follow @LacrosseMag on Twitter and Tweet using the hashtag #LMranks.

Power Ratings

Offense: 5*
Defense: 4
Goalkeeping: 3
Draw Control: 5
* Out of 5

Top Returner

A Michelle Tumolo (Sr.)
Tumolo won the 2012 IWLCA Attacker of the Year award on the strength of her crease moves, which produced 95 points. Her creativity and relentlessness stymied the nation's best defenders, and Tumolo can give as good as she gets. She led the team in caused turnovers (16).

X-Factor

M Kayla Traynor (Fr.)
The Orange's freshman class has both quantity (14 players) and quality. One of the best of the bunch is Traynor, a U.S. under-19 team alum who amassed 95 points during her senior season at Niskayuna (N.Y.) High School. "The coaches are impressed with what she delivers every day, with her stick skills and her poise. I'm looking for her to lead the way from the freshman class," Syracuse coach Gary Gait said.

What's New?

Katie Rowan, the most decorated player in Orange lacrosse history, has returned to the Carrier Dome as an assistant after two years at Albany. Rowan is Syracuse's career points (396) and assists (164) leader and Syracuse's only three-time All-American selection.

What's Not?

For now, Syracuse's Big East affiliation. The Orange will play in the conference for one more season before the school joins the ACC in the 2013-2014 school year. Syracuse last won the Big East championship in 2008.

#LMranks WD1 Preseason Countdown

No. 20 Princeton
No. 19 Boston College
No. 18 Stony Brook
No. 17 UMass
No. 16 Towson
No. 15 Cornell
No. 14 Georgetown
No. 13 Ohio State
No. 12 Penn
No. 11 Dartmouth
No. 10 Notre Dame
No. 9 Penn State
No. 8 Virginia
No. 7 Duke
No. 6 Loyola
No. 5 North Carolina
No. 4 Maryland
No. 3 Northwestern
No. 2 Syracuse
No. 1 Florida
Friday: Preseason Player of the Year
Next week: "Best of the Rest," rankings analysis, telling numbers, Top 20 matchups.

More: Countdown schedule | MD1 | MD2 | WD2 | MD3 | WD3 | JuCo | MCLA | WCLA

2012 Recap

Record: 19-4 (8-0 Big East)

In a Nutshell: 2012 was the Orange's most successful year in team history. They had a program-high 19 wins and reached their first national semifinal. The one-two punch of Michelle Tumolo and Alyssa Murray on attack was one of the most exciting, creative units in the country. Syracuse had a penchant for winning tight games, but came up two goals shy of victory in the NCAA championship, losing to Northwestern, 8-6.

High Point: The electrifying double-overtime comeback against Florida in the NCAA semifinals. The Gators led by as many as seven goals during the second half, but the Orange made a major comeback, scoring five in the final seven minutes to force overtime. Then, in overtime, a would-be game-winner by midfielder Gabi Wiegand was disallowed for an illegal stick. The Orange won the game, 14-13, in double overtime on an unassisted shot by Sarah Holden.

Low Point: Losing their cool during the national championship. Syracuse led 2-0 early in the first half but let Northwestern's grinding stall game get to them. The second half was a comedy of errors. The crowd openly booed the Wildcats' slow-down strategy. Gait was awarded a yellow card for stepping on to the field during what he thought was a time out following a controversial call in favor of Northwestern. He later criticized the officiating crew in a postgame press conference. Tumolo drew a red card for abusive language towards an official. Both of them were reprimanded by the NCAA.

2013 Preview

Best Case: The coaching staff cultivates the perfect balance between creativity and maturity, allowing the Orange to play smarter and not just harder, especially against teams with well-calibrated strategies designed frustrate Syracuse's need for speed. They win the Big East championship in their final year in the league, and race to its first NCAA title. Gary Gait becomes the first male head coach to win a Division I NCAA women's lacrosse championship.

Worst Case: Opposing coaches realize how effective a faceguard is against Tumolo. (Loyola and Northwestern both used it to great effect in 2012, winning a league and a national championship, respectively, against the Orange.) Then they add a slow-down game that annoys and frustrates the explosive Syracuse attack. The Orange draws a trap game in the expanded 26-game tournament and makes an early exit from the postseason.

Inside Scoop

Coach Gary Gait's comments on...

A Alyssa Murray (Jr.)
"We're not asking a whole lot more of her. We're just asking her to get better, a little smarter. It's amazing how when you go from freshman to sophomore year, it's a huge leap. Kids go, 'Oh my god, I get it now.' It's the same thing when kids go from juniors to seniors with leadership. Alyssa will do the same thing. We told her to go with what you've done, try new things and try and develop chemistry plays with your teammates."

A Michelle Tumolo (Sr.)
"For her it's just a matter of keeping a killer instinct and playing hard. She makes a play every time she touches the ball. It's about mentally staying focused. She has all the tools, and it's a matter of putting together 60 minutes."

D Becca Block (Sr.)
"Becca really stepped up as well. She and [twin] Linley are two of the fastest players in the country by far. And there's two of them. They can clear the ball any time they want. They've picked up the role on draw controls of shutting off opponents and playing team D. They are a couple kids who are super-athletic and they've developed stick skills and become huge impact players."

Rival Coaches Say

"Syracuse is going to be great. They are going to be fast. I think they are going to be hungry. They've been climbing up the ladder here a little more each year, and I'm sure they feel they let it slip away last year so they are going to be fierce. They are going to come in believing and play fast and play aggressive. They will be good. They will be hot-tempered. Typically they can be emotionally unstable, so if you can get the best of them early on, that always bodes well for you...

"They barely lost anything. I think they're going to be fast and very deep. They'll have two goalkeepers they'll have the ability to go to as well as a number of attackers that gained serious experience. I expect to see them in the hunt for the national title."


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