May 23, 2014

Murray, Treanor Propel Syracuse to NCAA Final

by Paul Ohanian | LaxMagazine.com | May Madness Home

In-Game Blog Replay

 

Senior attacker and Tewaaraton Award finalist Alyssa Murray had a season-high nine points in Syracuse's 16-8 NCAA semifinal victory Friday over Virginia. (Greg Wall)

Photo Gallery: Orange Rout Virginia to Advance

TOWSON, Md. – When the best players play their best, their team wins. It was that simple Friday, as the dynamic duo of Alyssa Murray and Kayla Treanor combined for 10 goals and six assists to lead second-seeded Syracuse to a convincing 16-8 win over sixth-seeded Virginia in the NCAA women's lacrosse semifinals at Towson.

The Orange, which added to its school record for wins by improving to 21-2, advanced to Sunday's national championship game for the second time in program history. Syracuse will face top-seeded Maryland, which handed the Orange its only two losses of the season.

Murray and Treanor had a hand in 14 of their team's 16 goals, with Virginia's decision to try to defend them 1-on-1, without sliding or double-teaming, providing ample opportunity for the two Tewaaraton Award finalists to either score on isolations or set up teammates for easy shots. Syracuse built early leads of 3-0 and 6-1 and never looked back in beating Virginia for the second time this season.

"We were a little surprised that they didn't double or go quick," Orange coach Gary Gait said. "Our focus was very good right from the beginning and our execution was exceptional. We adapted to the way they were playing defense."

Treanor, marked for most of the game by Virginia's standout junior defender Morgan Stephens, scored an unassisted goal less than a minute into the game, then assisted on Syracuse's next two goals as the Orange built a 3-0 lead in the opening 10 minutes.

The first of three goals by Virginia's Kelly Boyd put the Cavaliers on the board at 19:28, but Syracuse answered with another three-goal run, fueled by two goals and an assist by Murray. The senior finished the game with a season-high nine points on six goals and three assists.

"Not having a double is something we haven't seen in a while," Murray said. "Treanor and I know we can work well with each other when they're not doing that. We know we can use each other."

Boyd's second of the game stopped the bleeding briefly for the Cavaliers, pulling them to within 6-2 at 5:12, but another three-goal Syracuse run pushed the lead to 9-2 before Virginia's Maddy Keeshan scored with one second left before halftime.

While Treanor and Murray received most of the credit for the big first half, Gait was quick to credit his senior-dominated defense —  led by Kasey Mock, Liz Harbeson and Natalie Glanell —  for their performance.

"They get after you and put the pressure on," Gait said. "Having the defense get the ball back for you is huge. Those are momentum swings. That happened several times in the first half. Holding them to three goals in a half is exceptional."

Syracuse Postgame Press Conference

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