TOWSON, Md. (AP) — Syracuse coach Gary Gait is ready for his team to start its own tradition in NCAA women’s lacrosse.
He hopes to begin the process Sunday night against the most successful program in the history of the sport, Maryland, which stands one win away from its 11th national championship.
The Orange have advanced to the final only once previously, losing to Northwestern in 2012. To win the title, Gait knows Syracuse (21-2) must correct the mistakes it made in a pair of losses to the Terrapins earlier this season.
“We are truly a tested team and we’ve played the toughest schedule in the country,” Gait said. “We’re just looking to get a third shot. The third time might be a charm.”
Syracuse lost to Maryland 12-10 in the regular season and 13-7 in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament. The Orange, however, have been dominant in the postseason and easily handled Virginia 16-8 in the NCAA semifinals Friday.
Syracuse boasts the nation’s leading scorer in Kayla Treanor, who has 114 points (77 goals, 37 assists). She is complemented by Alyssa Murray, who became the first player in school history to record 100 points in a season three times her career. Murray had six goals and three assists against the Cavaliers.
Murray hopes the experience of playing in the NCAA title game two years ago (an 8-6 loss to Northwestern) will be beneficial Sunday.
“There is no need to have nerves,” Murray said. “We’ve done all the preparation we can do at this point. We only need to execute now. Being there definitely helps, but the big thing is there were so many big games for the freshmen to the seniors. We experienced playing the best teams over and over again.”
For Maryland (22-1), a trip to the national championship match is the goal from the first day of spring practice. The battle-tested Terrapins’ lone loss this season was against North Carolina, the team that defeated Maryland 13-12 in last year’s NCAA final.
The Terrapins feel right at home in Towson, where they won their most previous championship in 2010. Maryland beat Northwestern 9-6 in the semifinals Friday.
“Syracuse is super tough,” Maryland coach Cathy Reese said. “We have a lot of respect for them. We did just face them a couple of weeks ago. So, our focus is not on them; it’s about us. We just need to make sure we’re doing what we’ve done all season with executing our game plan and sticking with what we do well.”
Midfielder Taylor Cummings is tied with attacker Kelly McPartland for the team lead with 60 goals. Cummings also led the team in the regular season with 116 draw controls, 35 ground balls and 30 caused turnovers.
Cummings was face-guarded by several Northwestern defenders in the semifinals and held to a goal. That strategy freed up McPartland, who finished with a hat trick.
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