So close: Syracuse falls to Maryland in national championship game

The Orange women's lacrosse team rallied late, but couldn't overcome a slow start against the Terrapins in a 15-12 loss.

TOWSON, Md. — Syracuse attack Alyssa Murray sounded hopeful on Friday evening, talking about how she had been there before. She remembered how awful it felt two years ago when the Orange fell to Northwestern in the national championship.

This year was supposed to be different, but a familiar foe had other ideas.

"We were going and going hard and I think we caught Maryland on their heels a bit. But we just ran out of time.”
- Alyssa Murray

For the third time this season, the second-seeded Orange (21-3) had no answer for Maryland (23-1). After two halves of high-energy offensive runs by both teams, SU ran out of time and fell to the top-seeded Terrapins, 15-12, at Johnny Unitas Stadium in Towson, Md., on Sunday. The national title is Maryland's 11th, while Syracuse has now fallen during three consecutive championship weekends.

Both teams fed off a raucous crowd of 10,311 fans, the largest ever for a championship game. Ultimately, though, a lightning-quick 5-0 run by Maryland during the game's first five minutes doomed the Orange.

“They came out and dominated," Orange head coach Gary Gait said. "You know if you can do it again you hope you can get a different start, but that was the way it went today."

SU fought back with a four-goal run of its own, but poor execution in the draw circle gave Maryland plenty of chances to add on.

It did, as the Terrapins took an 8-4 lead and eventually added a ninth tally. However, goals by Katie Webster and Bridget Daley did give the Orange a jolt of momentum before halftime.

“We did a much better job in the second half with the draw controls,"Gait said. If we had done that in the first half it would have been a much different game."

But for most of the second half, Maryland controlled the pace. After Murray opened up the frame with her second goal of the night and 64th of the season to bring Syracuse within two, Maryland went on a 4-0 tear to jump out to a 13-7 lead.

Following a Kailah Kempney goal with 17:53 left, Maryland's Beth Glaros capped off a five-goal performance with her final two tallies.

"I wanted to win for (head coach) Cathy (Reese),” said the decorated senior.

The Orange fought back in true "Cardiac ‘Cuse" fashion, letting loose on a 4-0 run to make the score 15-12. But, with time running out and desperation setting in, it failed to execute offensively in the final minutes.

“We had to go full speed,” Murray said. “We didn’t have that much time left on the clock. We were going and going hard and I think we caught Maryland on their heels a bit. But we just ran out of time.”

The ticking clock resulted in three brutal turnovers for the Orange, which lost possession on an errant pass out of a draw and on two “home-run” passes during the final minutes.

Thus, in a game featuring four Tewaaraton finalists, the Orange's run at an elusive first championship came to an abrupt end. Murray and Kayla Treanor embraced on the field, telling each other how much they enjoyed their time together. Later, they both struggled to fight back tears as they reflected on their record-setting season.

Despite coming up short once again, Murray found a silver lining in the bright future of the program that she helped build.

“You’re asking me to cry,” she said with a light laugh. “This is a heck of a season. We made history at Syracuse. We definitely left our mark as a class. We definitely showed the underclassmen what the Syracuse way is.”

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