The first time I spoke to Syracuse head coach Gary Gait about its upcoming clash against No. 4 Maryland, I asked him what his team would need to do in order to beat the Terrapins. Without hesitation, he said emphasized execution.
Sunday afternoon's 11-19 loss to the Terrapins at the Carrier Dome was, to put it lightly, the complete opposite of the proposed game plan.
"We learned what it's like to be on top and have people coming after you from down below," he said. "The target was on our back and today Maryland hit the bullseye."
The Terrapins quickly reminded the Orange that its 10-9 loss at College Park last season was a fluke, netting three of the first four goals before junior Katie Webster and junior Alyssa Murray scored back-to-back goals to tie the game at 3-3. Maryland would find themselves up two, but it was senior Michelle Tumolo and freshman Kayla Treanor recording unassisted goals to tie the game at 6-6 with 5:41 remaining in the first half.
A seven-goal explosion from Maryland senior Katie Schwarzmann was just too much for the Orange as her and freshman sensation, Taylor Cummings put two more on the board to lead at halftime 6-8.
At the start of the second half, Cathy Reese's squad showed no signs of slowing down, picking up where it left off, scoring three of the first four goals to take a 11-6 lead. Murray would temporarily stop the bleeding, notching two goals to bring the Orange within four at 12-8, but the damage had been done, the offensive star power of Schwarzmann, Cummings and senior Alex Aust was stiffling. The trio combined for 16 of the 19 goals.
"We had a game plan and didn't really execute the way we should have," senior defender Becca Block said. "We were a step behind them from the beginning of the game and they just took advantage of it."
Gait reiterated that it was a tough game defense wise stating that his team needs to work on executing the game plan and overall general communication on the defensive end.
The Terrapins won where it mattered, on the draw control, going 17-of-32 as well as scooping up 17 ground balls to the Orange's 15. Junior goalkeeper Alyssa Costantino recorded seven saves while her relief in the second half, sophomore Kelsey Richardson, turned away three.
The Orange will look to redeem itself against No. 8/11 Virginia next Sunday, February 24, at the Carrier Dome at 1 p.m.