Title IX

Syracuse women’s sports garner attention after lacrosse team’s appearance in national title game

Ilana Goldmeier | Staff Photographer

Michelle Tumolo, an SU attack, believes the women's lacrosse team's appearance in the national championship last year helped put a spotlight on women's sports at Syracuse.

Sarah Holden’s game-winning, double-overtime goal in the NCAA tournament semifinal wasn’t just important for the women’s lacrosse team, but for women’s sports at Syracuse as a whole.

The Orange ultimately fell to Northwestern in the national championship, but the reaction to the game from the SU fan base alone was proof of just how far this team had taken women’s sports at Syracuse.

“It really puts a spotlight on women’s sports right now at the school,” SU attack Michelle Tumolo said.

The Orange has never won a national championship in a women’s sport, but Syracuse got as close as it ever had last season. After capping an incredible seven-goal comeback in the semifinal, the Orange captured the attention of Syracuse fans.

During the 8-6 loss to the Wildcats, hordes of SU fans took to Twitter to complain about NU’s stall tactics — something that would have been unheard of for a women’s sport before the national-championship run.

“It put us on the map,” Syracuse head coach Gary Gait said. “A lot of people last year really looked at us as, ‘Hey, wow, this women’s lacrosse team is really good and improved.’ The goal is to win and we’re getting close. So I think they recognize that.”

But one season of success isn’t enough for the Orange. With pretty much the entire offense returning from last season’s run, SU will likely boast a lofty preseason ranking. But it still needs to prove itself on the field.

“The key was to get there, but now I think you need to show that you belong there year in and year out, and I think that makes this year really important to show that we’re not just lucky to get there and we’re not an every-other-year team,” Gait said. “We need to be consistent year in and year out.”

But Tumolo doesn’t think all the attention should be reserved for the women’s lacrosse team. Women’s sports at Syracuse are playing at an all-time high level, and people are starting to take notice.

“It’s not just us that’s doing well; field hockey’s No. 1 right now, so we’re doing good,” Tumolo said. “It’s not just us — women’s lacrosse — that are making a name for ourselves; I think a lot of the women’s sports here are. Maybe we’ll get more recognition and respect.”

Fellow attack Alyssa Murray said the success last season already has proven that the team is on the same level as some of the men’s teams. The reception players got in Syracuse after the season was proof of that.

But she’s not satisfied with that. The only way to top last season is to win a national championship, she said.

“After the final four, we were packing up our apartments and our houses and stuff and people would come up to us and say, ‘Hey, that was a great season,’” Murray said. “So everyone knows what’s going on and that we’re on the brink of something really special. So it’s really exciting to be a part of.”

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