CN: Florida and Syracuse are basically mirror images of each other. What is it going to take Syracuse to get the win and head to the Final Four?
DB: Both teams have outstanding offensive talent and athletic, fast midfields, but where they differ is on the defensive end. Florida plays a man defense and Syracuse plays a backer zone. A backer zone essentially forces a team to spread the ball out. It makes you rely offensively on all seven of your offensive players to score, and Florida certainly has the talent to do that against the Syracuse defense. I think where Syracuse can win this game is on the draw and on offense, where they will have to have a good day and get contributions from more than just Treanor and Murray to beat a tough Florida defense.
CN: What individual matchup are you looking forward to?
DB: Sam Farrell against Alyssa Murray. I can also see Farrell matched up on Kayla Treanor but either way, that will be a great one-on-one matchup. Farrell is one of the best defenders in the nation and is such a huge part of why the Gator defense is so strong. Farrell bodies up, plays physical and can cause turnovers. Limiting Murray and Treanor will be key for the Florida defense, making Farrell's role a big one on Saturday.
CN: The edge in terms of goaltending goes to Florida's Mikey Meagher. What will the Syracuse offense have to do to be successful against the Tewaaraton finalist?
DB: You have to work a little harder to beat a top notch goalie — stick fakes, changing planes, varying your shots, moving her. I think Syracuse has been especially good at this in the postseason — they've averaged 18 goals per game over their three playoff contests (Big East Tournament and NCAA Second Round).
CN: In Michelle Tumolo's absence, freshman Kayla Treanor has stepped up big time. Talk about her play and where it stands out in terms of freshmen this season.
DB: Treanor has been fantastic all season and has especially stepped up since Tumolo's injury, moving to the left side where Tumolo played and continuing to be a threat as both a feeder and a scorer. I think the rookie of the year race is between Treanor and Maryland's Taylor Cummings. Entering the season, Cummings was Inside Lacrosse's top-ranked freshman and Treanor came in at No. 2. Treanor certainly has the advantage if you're looking at stats alone, but the difference is that Cummings hasn't been asked to do as much as Treanor. Cummings takes the draws for Maryland and is a threat in transition as well as in their settled offense, while Treanor plays a lead role in Syracuse's offense. I think Cummings has an edge in terms of talent, but if you look at the impact each has had for their team this year, I think Treanor has played a bigger role.
CN: In your opinion, do these two teams have any weaknesses?
DB: I wouldn't call them weaknesses as much as I might say one has an edge on the other. I think Syracuse has an edge on draws, but I don't think that makes it a weakness for Florida. I think the Gators have an edge on defense and in goal. Both teams have dynamic offensive players, but I think Florida's a little deeper and has more of a veteran presence. I picked Florida to win, but Syracuse can absolutely win this game too.
Q & A with IL's Danielle Bernstein
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