Syracuse WLAX Against UNC: Midfield Preview

Talking about those athletes doing all of the work in between the 30s
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For today's topic, let's take a look at the players on both sides doing the work in between the 30s. Midfield is a thankless position-we all know this to be true. But they are the reason that attackers get offensive opportunities and the people who help out defenders on every play. Let's check out the midfield matchups for this Saturday.

UNC 

Kerrigan Miller, #18, M, 5-5, Graduate Student

Miller is a graduate transfer from the University of South Carolina. There, she was a two-time Pac-12 Midfielder of the Year winner (2019, 2020), two-time All-American, and she was a member of the 56-player final watchlist for the 2020 Tewaraaton Award. This year, she also was on Inside Lacrosse's list of the top 50 players in college lacrosse (men and women), ranking 20th overall and 10th among female players, as well as 2021 Preseason first-team All-America (IL and US Lacrosse) and Preseason All-ACC for 2021. Bottom line, Miller is one of the most decorated players in college lacrosse and she has been on everyone's radar for many years. Even back in high school, Miller was ILWomen's Number 1 ranked incoming freshman in the nation out of Bayport Bluepoint on Long Island. 

Miller was drawn to USC because they were an up and coming team and she wanted to be a part of a team that she could help elevate to the next level. For Miller, it was always less about the stats or winning and more about leaving USC a better place than she found it. 

Now, in her fifth year, she has transferred to UNC with hopes of winning her first ever national championship. Another little tid bit for you, Miller and Hoeg played in high school together on the same travel team and it was always in their plans to try and go to the same college. Because of the pandemic, they ended up getting their wish after all. Even though Miller is a newbie on this team, she fit in right away and earned a starting spot. Make sure to take a look at her stats. To me, they indicate she is a well-balanced player, skilled at a few different things. 

Want to know more about KM's journey? Check out the first Episode of Stick Side High. 

2021 Stats: 13 goals, 3 assists, 16 points, 20DC, 5CT, 9GB

Ally Mastroianni, #12, M, 5-9, Senior

Earned a captain role this spring and serves as one of UNC's leaders on and off the field. I think it's easy for spectators who watch the game to think the most about the "big" stats: goals, assists, points. Yet, when I interviewed a Tar Heel for this week's podcast (dropping tomorrow), she said that one of the most important stats in Saturday's game will be draws. That's where Mastroianni comes in. She has 50 draw controls on the year, which leads the team and is good for 36% of the team draws.  She ranks fifth in the ACC with 5 draw controls/game. Katelyn Mashewske of Syracuse ranks 3rd with 6.83/game, so it will be interesting to see these two go head to head this weekend.

2021 Stats: 17 goals, 2 assists, 19 points, 6GB, 3CTO, 50DC

Elizabeth Hillman, #21, M, 5-4, Redshirt Sophomore

The youngest midfielder of the bunch, but she has a lot to show for the time she has been a part of the team. She won a gold medal with the U19 U.S. Women’s National Team at the 2019 World Lacrosse Women’s U19 World Championship that competed in August. She also was ranked the No. 1 overall incoming freshman and the top incoming midfielder in the nation for the 2019 season by Inside Lacrosse. As a freshman, she played in 20 games, had 9 goals, 3 assists, and 12 points. 

She redshirted in her sophomore year (2020) because of an elbow injury that she initially sustained in her final high school basketball game. It got progressively worse throughout her frehsman year at UNC and in her sophomore year, she got the surgery she needed to return to play. 

Since then, she has been back as a crucial part of the starting lineup, particularly because of her work on the draw, on a Carolina team that many believe is the best in the country. 

2021 Stats: 4goals, 2 assists, 6 points, 4GB, 1CTO, 20DC

Syracuse 

Sam Swart, #3, M, 5-5, Senior

Swart has played or started in every single game since her arrival at Syracuse, and she has always been a contributor in some way. Freshman year, she ranked fourth on the team in points (38) and third in goals (36). Sophomore year, she was tied for third on the team in goals (32) and fifth in points (38). Junior year, she was second on the team in assists (10) and fourth on the team in points (22) and goals (12). The best thing about Sam Swart is she's dependable, and she really has improved every year. This year, she has had two 4-goal performances and five 2-goal performances. She also has 1 assist on the year, but she has stepped up in Hawryschuk's absence as one of Syracuse's biggest scoring threats. 

2021 Stats: 18 goals, 1 assist, 19 points, 3 GB 

Sierra Cockerile, #43, M, 5-9, Junior

Cockerille is a bit younger than Swart but they are similar in that they both have been on the field and contributors since their freshman year which is important. Freshman year, Cockerille played in 18 games, and sophomore year, she played in all 8 games, ranking fifth on the team in points (17), goals (12), and assists (5). This year, she has really come into her own, with 12 goals and 14 assists so far on the year. This entire midfield is selfless. They know and understand that part of their job is to score and assist, but they also know their role is to get rack up stats in the less discussed, but equally important columns (GBs, DCs, CTOs). 

2021 Stats: 12 goals, 14 assists, 24 points, 12 GB, 4CTO, 7DC

Katelyn Mashewske, #8, M, 5-10, Sophomore

The youngest of the midfield bunch, but this is someone who has gained a lot of traction in the past few games because of her work on the draw. It's always nice to see young players step up and find their place in a starting lineup, and that's what Mashewske has done. No goals or assists yet this year, but she has 46 draw controls, good for 3rd in the ACC. If draws are one of the most important stats this year, Mashewske very well could be one of the most important players.