ON THEIR BACKS: Treanor, Murray lead Syracuse past Virginia, into NCAA championship game

first_imgTOWSON, Md. — Alyssa Murray raised both her hands above her head and smiled after her goal at the end of the first half pushed Syracuse ahead by seven.After she and sophomore attack Kayla Treanor had been held in check in the Orange’s first two games of the NCAA tournament, they finally broke free for a combined nine first-half points against Virginia.The game wasn’t close to over, but Treanor and Murray had reassumed the roles they’d played all season. Their collective resurgence paid off in No. 2-seed Syracuse’s (21-2, 6-1 Atlantic Coast) 16-8 win over the sixth-seeded Cavaliers (12-9, 3-4) in the semifinals of the NCAA tournament at Johnny Unitas Stadium on Friday.With the win, the Orange will face top-seeded Maryland (22-1, 6-1) in the national championship on Sunday at 8:30 p.m. on the same field.After struggling to score against Stony Brook and Boston College in the first two rounds, Murray finished with six goals and three assists while Treanor added four and three.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“The execution was exceptional and we stuck to our game plan,” SU head coach Gary Gait said. “We took advantage and we adapted to the way we play defense.”Virginia’s defense was different from what Syracuse had seen earlier in the tournament.Stony Brook and Boston College were quick to slide and double-team Treanor and Murray. For the most part they shut them down, as the duo scored just three combined goals against BC on Saturday.But the Cavaliers decided to play straight up, putting one defender on each, to Gait’s surprise.“When we realized they weren’t doing that we said, ‘Hey, you two. Get it done,’” Gait said.Nearly a week ago, Treanor and Murray watched as the supporting cast of scorers did a job they usually do.But it took only 55 seconds into Friday’s game for Treanor to reclaim her role. She juked a defender on the baseline, did a stutter step in front of the goal and fired a shot into the back of the net to give SU the lead on its first possession.Just more than eight minutes later, standing just to the left of the goal, Treanor fired a pass to a cutting Murray, who whipped a shot into the net to make it 3-0.And when Murray and Treanor weren’t finding each other, they were finding someone else. The two combined to score or assist on 13 of the first 14 goals, and 14-of-16 overall.“It’s just a reflection of our offense and the work we’ve put in all year,” Treanor said. “We executed well today and our offense played really well, and we just finished the ball.”With Syracuse up 5-1, Murray had a shot off a penalty from the baseline. She charged toward the goal, shifted her body and fell to the ground as the shot hit the back of the net.“I think not having a double team is just something that we haven’t faced in a while,” Murray said. “Maybe that’s why they tried to do it.”It’s been a season highlighted by the tandem’s offensive capabilities, and that continued in the Orange’s biggest game to date.Treanor’s goal with 24:51 left in the second half put Syracuse up 11-4, and gave her 76 goals on the season, a program record.Murray’s nine-point game shot her up to third on the program’s all-time points list.But they’d be the first to tell you that this season isn’t about the records or blowout wins.It’s about what hasn’t happened yet, and what will be on the table against Maryland on Sunday.“We’ve done all the preparation we can do at this point,” Murray said. “We only need to execute now.” Comments Related Stories Gallery: Syracuse cruises past Virginia, earns spot in national championshipSyracuse defense spurs offensive outburst in semifinals win over Virginia Published on May 23, 2014 at 7:13 pm Contact Sam: [email protected] | @SamBlum3center_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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