April 3, 2009

Syracuse's Big East Bravado to be Tested

by Brian Delaney | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online

Syracuse and Georgetown have combined to win every Big East women's lacrosse championship since the league's inaugural 2001 season.

When the two teams meet Friday night in the nation's capital, the winner may very well earn the inside track at the top seed for the conference tournament later this month.

For eighth-ranked Syracuse (8-2), the next three games should decide its direction. The Orange visits No. 13 Loyola on Sunday and then hosts No. 9 Notre Dame on April 11.

"I think the Big East is one of the strongest conferences with Georgetown, Notre Dame, Loyola and ourselves, and we have the three of those games coming up, so its a great opportunity for us to get a top seed in the tournament," said Syracuse senior Katie Rowan, who has 31 goals and 25 assists in 10 games this year.

In 2008, Syracuse seemed to turn a corner in the regular season after beating Georgetown, at the time also ranked sixth, by a whopping 18-3 margin. The two teams met again in the conference championship game, with Syracuse claiming a 12-6 win.

Syracuse has never won at Georgetown.

The Orange sits atop the Big East standings at 3-0 after a home sweep of Louisville and Cincinnati last weekend. Rowan and junior Christina Dove have been the offensive catalysts.

Rowan, one of six college players to be selected by US Lacrosse to compete for the United States at the 2009 Federation of International Lacrosse World Cup from June 17-27 in the Czech Republic, was the preseason offensive player of the year. She ranks eighth on the NCAA career list for points with 340. Loyola coach Jen Adams holds the record with 445 during her Maryland days from 1998-2001.

Dove just became the third Orange player to record 200 career points, and has 34 goals and 11 assists on the year. She said the Hoyas' depth is a great asset.
"They're a very strong team, from midfield to offense to defense," she said. "A very deep team, and [we] have a lot of respect for them. And on the field they're very disciplined."

The Hoyas (7-3, 2-0) recorded an important conference win last weekend, beating Notre Dame in South Bend, 14-12. Their four primary offensive threats have been Molly Ford (27g, 10a), Jordy Kirr (22g, 13a), Ashby Kaestner (19g, 10a) and Jacqueline Giles (17g, 1a).

Loyola, which opened the season 7-1 and skyrocketed up the rankings, was swept on the road last weekend to open conference play 0-2. But the work of the well-respected Adams, in her first year with the Greyhounds, hasn't gone unnoticed in upstate New York.

"They always give us a good game, and they're a very physical team," Rowan said.

Both Rowan and Love said the Orange have learned much from their losses to Virginia and Northwestern. Now, they hope to apply those lessons during a key swing through the nation's capital.

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