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
– News release