NCAA women’s lacrosse tournament semifinals preview

This holiday weekend always holds a special place for lacrosse fans as the sport gets its time in the spotlight. The women take the stage first, with Friday’s semifinals back in Cary, North Carolina.

The field features one of the sport’s most accomplished programs looking to defend its title and add to its trophy case, but a first- or second-time champion could also emerge. The top three seeds are there, along with an unseeded squad that perhaps shouldn’t have been. Here’s a quick look at the matchups, with opening draw times and TV information. Enjoy the show and don’t look away, as every team here can make things happen in a hurry.

POSTSEASON LINEUP: NCAA women’s lacrosse tournament schedule/results

No. 1 Northwestern (17-2) vs. Florida (20-2)

Time/TV: 3 p.m. ET, ESPNU

How they got here: Northwestern – Beat Denver 17-4, Penn 20-7; Florida – Beat North Carolina 17-8, Virginia 13-8, Maryland 15-9.

National championships: Northwestern, eight (last 2023), Florida, none.

Players to watch: Northwestern – A Madison Taylor (75 G, 32 A); A Izzy Scane (79 G, 20 A); A Erin Coykendall (41 G, 55 A). Florida – A Maggi Hall (60 G, 54 A); A Danielle Pavinelli (54 G, 39 A); A Ashley Gonzalez (34 G, 33 A).

Quick sticks: These programs were once league rivals in the erstwhile American Lacrosse Conference, though they haven’t met since 2014. The Wildcats, of course, now compete in the Big Ten, while the Gators play in the American Athletic Conference, which they have won every year since they joined in 2019. … Florida enters on a 20-game winning streak after an 0-2 start to the campaign. This is the Gators’ first semifinal appearance since 2012, which was only the program’s third season. Amanda O’Leary, a former two-sport standout at Temple, has helmed the program since its inception. … The contest pairs the nation’s two highest scoring teams, both averaging over 17 goals a game. … Northwestern’s deep attack unit also includes Dylan Amonte, niece of coach Kelly Amonte Hiller and daughter of U.S. hockey hall of fame inductee Tony Amonte.

No. 2 Boston College (18-3) vs. No. 3 Syracuse (16-5)

Time/TV: 5:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU

How they got here: Boston College – Beat Princeton 21-16, Michigan 14-9; Syracuse – Beat Stony Brook 15-10, Yale 19-9.

National championships: Boston College, one (2021); Syracuse, none.

Players to watch: Boston College – A Rachel Clark (71 G, 18 A); A Mckenna Davis (23 G, 64 A); A Emma LoPinto (54 G, 27 A). Syracuse – A Emma Tyrrell (70 G, 21 A); A Olivia Adamson (57 G, 24 A); A Emma Ward (42 G, 37 A).

Quick sticks: Syracuse coach Kayla Treanor and the Orange fans can be forgiven if they’re a little tired of running into BC at this phase of the season. The Eagles upended the Orange in last year’s semifinal round, and also defeated Syracuse in the 2021 championship game. … The two teams have also met twice this year already, with the Eagles taking both those encounters. BC won the regular-season meeting in an 11-10 squeaker and prevailed 15-8 in the ACC tournament. … While the rules of the women’s game tend to favor offenses, BC’s Sydney Scales is a major difference maker on the defensive end, averaging over two caused turnovers a game while often marking the opposing team’s top attacker.

Championship game: Sunday, noon ET, ESPN

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