Ahead of Northwestern’s matchup with fifth-seeded Syracuse this afternoon, let’s look at why these two teams have such a heated rivalry.
Two perennial powerhouses in the sport, Northwestern currently leads Syracuse in all-time matchups at 15-8. But the more recent years have proved to be tough battles every time, especially given most recently the ‘Cats had their 2021 season ended by the Orange in the NCAA Semifinal. Northwestern got its revenge back in March, but when Syracuse takes the field tomorrow for the national quarterfinal at Martin Stadium, it is sure to be a gritty match. Here are four of the most memorable matchups in recent history between the Wildcats and the Orange:
Northwestern wins the first matchup in overtime, 11-9 in February. Come May and the two meet again with a national title on the line. Both teams battle, but Northwestern comes away 8-6 for their seventh, and the ‘Cats most recent national championship.
Northwestern loses 5-3. In a freezing early March matchup in upstate New York, the Orange were victorious. Sixth-year graduate student attacker Emily Hawryschuk was a freshman and recorded one goal.
“[Ever since then], every time we play Northwestern, we know it’s going to be a battle,” Hawryschuk said to Inside NU. “I always look forward to when we play Northwestern, it’s a challenge but it’s one we always prepare for.”
Syracuse beats Northwestern 21-13 to hand the ‘Cats their only loss of the season and advance to the National Championship.
“It took a while [to get over that loss],” said graduate student Lauren Gilbert. “When someone ends your season in that fashion, it really hurts.”
Back in March, Northwestern, Gilbert specifically, sealed a revenge comeback win against the Orange in overtime. While that was a satisfying win, the ‘Cats still want to avenge their postseason loss.
“This one would definitely be sweeter,” said midfielder Jill Girardi. “Those emotions never really go away. You bring that into the next season, every game really.”
Syracuse is led by first-year head coach and women’s lacrosse legend Kayla Treanor, and both teams have immense amounts of respect for each other.
“Any time you play an opponent a lot, you have a big rivalry,” said head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller said. “Obviously we weren’t happy with how we played in the semifinal against Syracuse last year, and I think when you have a loss like that you always carry those feelings with you, but it’s especially prevalent when you play that same opponent.”
Regardless of the outcome tonight, this game should be one for the ages at Martin Stadium.