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NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Tournament Final Four Preview: (2) Northwestern vs (3) Syracuse

The Wildcats have one of the most electric talents and offenses in the sport. The Orange have one of the nation’s stingiest defenses. Who prevails on Friday?

2019 NCAA Division I Women’s Lacrosse Championship - Semifinals Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The 10,000 Foot View

Date and Time: Friday, 2:30 PM ET

Location: Johnny Unitas Stadium, Towson, Maryland

Network: ESPNU

LaxRef Win Probability: 55.1% Syracuse

Your Anticipation Level: THROUGH THE ROOF

The Nitty-Gritty Numbers

Northwestern vs Syracuse

THE STATS Northwestern Syracuse
THE STATS Northwestern Syracuse
Adjusted Offensive Eff. 42.8% (3rd) 40.5% (4th)
Adjusted Defensive Eff. 24.2% (14th) 16.4% (2nd)
Adjusted FO% 63.5% (7th) 64.2% (6th)
Clearing Percentage 88.0% (31st) 90.8% (10th)
Save Percentage 42.9% (51st) 45.0% (33rd)

The Key Match-Ups

  • Northwestern Offense vs Syracuse Defense
  • It’s the power vs power matchup of this Final Four. The Northwestern offense is 2nd in the country, powered by Izzy Scane’s incredible 94 goals, six shy of the single season record of 100 set by Courtney Murphy of Stony Brook in 2016. There’s also Lauren Gilbert with a whopping 65 goals of her own plus six 20+ goal scorers. Then there’s the Syracuse defense. 2nd in the country and a good bit ahead of 3rd. Sarah Cooper is an ILWomen First Team All-American, Ella Simkins provides tremendous experience, awesome ground ball play, and is an ILWomen Third Team All-American as well. It’s as good a matchup as you can ask for. Northwestern is armed with an army of dodgers and shooters, who can create things outside the framework of the offense, improvise, and beat their defender and hit big shots. But this is a Syracuse offense that held Charlotte North, the best dodger in the country, scoreless in their 2nd matchup and was able to limit her as best as you conceivably can in their other two games. Can they do the same against Scane? There’s no shutting down the Northwestern offense, but when you consider that the Northwestern defense isn’t quite up to snuff as the other three half-court units in this matchup, if Syracuse can slow down, then potentially they could maximize chances on the other end and keep this to a 12-13 goal wins range, exactly where the Orange want it. But if Northwestern gets this into a big crooked number type game, which they can with that firepower, that’s their style.
  • Northwestern Clear vs Syracuse Ride
  • Both of these teams have tremendous offenses. Both of them have great draw control units. So where can you find potential advantages to accrue extra possessions and maximize that offensive firepower? In the middle of the field, in the clearing and riding games. Syracuse is an elite clearing team, but Northwestern has the weakest clear of the four teams heading to Towson. It’s not bad, but a potential weakness. With draws likely being even, and Cuse going up against Scane and that dominant offense, the ride is their chance to limit that offense in addition to their great defense, and rack up some extra possessions to potentially exploit that Northwestern defense which isn’t quite up to snuff of the dominant other three half-court units in this game.