Having to face two national powerhouses in two days is a tough for any sports program, and Syracuse experienced that first hand on Tuesday. Fresh off a win against No. 5 Northwestern on Sunday, Syracuse women's lacrosse was back in action yesterday against No. 3 Florida at home. It took both halves of play and an overtime period to decide a winner, but the Gators came out as victors by a score of 11-10. It was Syracuse's first loss of the season.
The game remained close throughout. Both teams went on streaks of goals, claiming the lead before when they were hot and then losing it when they went cold.
There were times when Syracuse looked as if the game could be firmly in their hands, but costly mistakes turned the score against them.
Taylor Gait got a yellow card with just under five and a half to play in the game and the score tied at 9-9. Mollie Stevens and Florida capitalized on the man-up opportunity to take a 10-9 lead. There were a few missed free positions that went off the post, but the most important error cost the Orange the game.
After Syracuse won the overtime draw in their defensive zone they called a timeout. With momentum on their side after tying the game late to send it into OT, the Orange looked to close out the Gators. On the ensuing clear attempt, goalie Allie Murray carried the ball all the way up the field, just ten yards shy of Syracuse's offensive zone. This places Murray 70 yards away from her cage. No Syracuse players were offering her an outlet to pass and Stevens jumped on her vulnerable positioning. She checked the ball free from Murray. Florida attacker Sammi Burgess scooped up the ground ball and bolted downfield. Murray and the rest of the Orange desperately chased after her.
Syracuse forced a restart on Burgess inside the 16-meter arc. The only problem was that Murray had to stop where she was when the restart occurred. Unfortunately for Syracuse, Murray was forced to start right on the 16-meter line, leaving the goal wide open. On the whistle Burgess made a swift pass to Stevens who buried the shot into the open net giving Florida the overtime win.
"You make mistakes and you pay the price," said head coach Gary Gait. "We made too many mistakes and that is what the game ended up coming down to."
Murray didn't have a great game in goal today. Along with her game losing turnover, she struggled in net. There were many occasions when a lazy shot went by her stick-side high. She allowed 11 goals while only making two saves. Her strategy in goal is to play a high crease. She actively comes out from the confines of her circle to crash on players on the opposing team. Florida effortlessly avoided this strategy. They made Murray move out of position constantly, then made one more pass, and scored an easy goal when she was out of position. There were shots that Murray should have saved but let skate past.
Playing two top-five opponents in two days is no easy task and Syracuse fell to the pressures. The Orange will look to clean up their mistakes and rebound against another ranked opponent. They travel to face ACC opponent No. 7 Virginia in their first road game this season on Saturday.