It was a fast start by the No. 5 Syracuse Orange that mostly proved to be the difference in their 17-11 win over the Oregon Ducks (1-1) on a cold (temperature was in the low 40s) and cloudy Sunday afternoon in West Linn, Ore. SU is now 2-0 on the season.
The ‘Cuse wasted no time as Mary Rahal scored the first Orange goal three minutes into the game, despite Oregon’s early success at the draw circle. Syracuse would add three more over the next several minutes to lead 4-0 almost seven minutes into the game. Several short Orange runs would increase their lead to its largest of the day at 12-4 with about five and a half minutes left in the 1st half.
However, the Ducks would fight their way back into it. A pair of goals at the end of the half cut the Syracuse lead to 12-6 at the intermission. They continued this run into the second half by scoring three goals in as many minutes to cut the ‘Cuse lead to 12-9 with 27 minutes to play in the game.
The Orange defense locked things down and kept the Oregon offense scoreless for 20 minutes while the offense patiently built the lead up over a 13 minute stretch. Emily Hawryschuk’s goal at the 13:33 mark put Syracuse back up by seven at 16-9. Oregon would not see the net again until over seven minutes left in the contest. A pair of quick goals brought the Ducks back to within 16-11 but could not get any closer. Taylor Gait’s goal with less than two minutes left finished the scoring for the Orange.
The Turning Point
Syracuse never trailed in this game and led by as many as eight late in the 1st half. However, Oregon went on a fast five goal run that threatened to get them back in the game just three minutes into the second half and had clearly gained momentum.
SU midfielder Ella Simkins got the ensuing draw control and it took fellow attacker Molly Carter just 30 seconds to respond with an unassisted goal. Carter would also score the next two goals to put Syracuse back up comfortably 15-9 with 16:13 left to play. The defense in general also forced several turnovers during this stretch to keep the Ducks from getting good shots on the goal. Orange goalie Hannah Van Middelem (who played the entire second half) had a pair of big free position saves during this time period after a shaky start.
Once again, the ‘Cuse showed their depth on the offensive end with nine players finding the back of the net. Carter led the team with four points (three goals and an assist), Gait added three goals, Neena Merola, Sam Swart, Nicole Levy and Hawryschuk all had two goals each, Alie Jimerson and Cara Quimby added a goal and an assist each, Rahal had a goal and Emily Resnick had an assist. The Orange outshot the Ducks on goal 26-19.
Syracuse finished the game with a 16-14 edge in draw controls. Merola and Gait accounted for half of them with four each while Swart, Morgan Widner and Kerry Defliese all had a pair.
On the defensive end, the Orange had a 10-3 edge in caused turnovers while evening out with Oregon in ground balls with 17 each. Alexa Radziewicz had three ground balls and a caused turnover and Vanessa Constantino had one ground ball and two caused turnovers to lead the defense.
Both Asa Goldstock and Van Middelem saw significant action in the net on Sunday. Goldstock played the entire first half and had a good game with five saves and a 45.5% save percentage. Van Middelem came in after the intermission and despite a rough start added three saves and ended with a 37.5% save percentage, but added two ground balls and a caused turnover.
Probably the biggest matchup in my opinion was the one between the Orange offense and senior Oregon goalie Brittany Read. If the same sounds familiar to women’s lacrosse fans it’s because she was at Louisville last year and one of the best goalies in the country. She had a 51% save percentage in her first three years with the Cardinals. Last year, she stymied the Orange offense with a 55.5% (10 saves) save percentage in SU’s 9-8 loss last year at Louisville.
The ‘Cuse put the fears of a repeat performance to rest very quickly with their fast start and Read never established her rhythm. She finished the game with only a 34.6% save percentage with only nine saves against 17 goals.
The Orange did not have quite the problems at the draw control on Sunday that they had against UConn last weekend. SU did edge the Ducks 16-14 in the draw circle and did not give up any big runs there. Julie Cross, who had a big night against the Huskies, was quiet and Widner had only two. However, I do wonder if the change of rules in the draw circle (plus with the fact that they now have to have their sticks horizontally when setting up) might be a factor. It’s possible that these two players are still contributing to the draw control success, but we’re just not seeing the direct stats reflect this. This game wasn’t televised or on video stream, so it’s hard to say. This is something I’ll watch carefully later on in the week in their next game.
The Orange will return to the Carrier Dome on Thursday evening to face the Albany Great Danes (0-1) at 5 pm. ET. This series started in 2014 with SU winning all four contests by a total of six goals and never by more than two goals. Last year Syracuse edged out a 13-12 thriller in the Dome. The Orange trailed 12-11 before Levy tied the game with less than two minutes left. Riley Donahue scored the winning goal with just nine ticks on the clock.
Albany’s coaching staff also has Orange connections. First year head coach Jessica Davos played at Syracuse during the Lisa Miller years.