Following their loss to Notre Dame on Saturday, the No. 11/12 Syracuse Orange (6-4) really needed a win against the No. 12/11 Northwestern Wildcats (7-3) to stop its slide in the polls. The Wildcats did not oblige and the Orange are now on a two-game losing streak following a 14-10 loss Monday afternoon in Evanston, Ill.
The ‘Cuse took the lead two minutes into the game when Sam Swart took a Riley Donahue feed to score the first goal. Nicole Levy added a pair of goals and Syracuse jumped out to a 3-0 advantage about six minutes in. Northwestern was able to control the tempo with draw controls, but sloppy play on both sides kept the Orange in the lead for most of the first half. The Wildcats turned things around in the last four minutes with three quick goals, including a free position score with just nine ticks on the clock. That score gave Northwestern its first lead of the day with the Wildcats up 5-4 at the half.
Levy scored with 27:41 left in the game to knot it up at five, but that was the closest the Orange would get for the rest of the game. Four minutes later, an errant pass by Asa Goldstock gave Northwestern the go ahead score which initiated a five goal run. Midway through the second half, the Wildcats led 10-5 and SU would never get closer than three after that.
Northwestern had a slight edge in shots 30 to 29, and had 24 to 22 on goal. The Wildcats also had a whopping 18 turnovers to 10 for Syracuse. However, Northwestern won the draw control battle easily 18 to eight and had an edge in ground balls 21-17. Syracuse struggled for the second game in a row with clears going 17-of-21 while the Wildcats went 16-of-17. Northwestern was 3-for-5 in free position shots while SU went 0-for-5.
Levy led the Syracuse scoring with five points (4 g, 1 a) while Emily Hawryschuk had four points (2 g, 2 a). Mia DiBello led the defense with three ground balls and caused turnovers each. Kerry Defliese had three draw controls, three ground balls and a caused turnover. Swart and Alexa Radziewicz each had a pair of ground balls and a caused turnover. Neena Merola picked up three draw controls while Julie Cross had a pair. Goldstock had 10 saves against 14 goals.
Two situations changed the game around for Northwestern. Levy picked up a ground ball with 1:34 left in the first half after Northwestern goalie Julie Krupnick made a save. This meant that SU could pretty much hold until almost the end with a 90 second shot clock. Emily Resnick took a shot at Krupnick with 28 seconds to go, which the Wildcat goalie saved (she would have 12 saves for the game, six in each half). Northwestern managed to get possession back and had a successful clear. A foul on Resnick at the other end set up a free position shot for Wildcat Sheila Nesselbush. The midfielder put it past Goldstock to give Northwestern its first lead of the day just before the end of the half, giving the Wildcats momentum going into the break.
Although SU would tie it at five early in the 2nd half, the backbreaker came at the 23:44 mark. The Orange gained possession off of a Northwestern turnover. Goldstock had the ball in the goal crease with Northwestern midfielder Selena Lasota right in front of her. Goldstock stepped over the crease and tried to lob the ball over Lasota, who made a stick check. The ball popped up and into Lasota’s pocket and all she needed to do was stick it in for the go-ahead score. This sparked a five-goal run for the Wildcats over the next eight minutes and the Orange never recovered.
The sloppiness continued for the Orange in this game. Despite taking an early three goal lead, they managed just one more goal in the first half and could never put any runs together later on. Here are some of the reasons why this happened.
Draw Controls (again): Northwestern won in the draw circle 18-8. Several of their goals came off of quick transitions off the draw. The Wildcats made two runs of draws in this game. The first time was a four-draw run in the first half that enabled them to turn a three-goal Syracuse advantage into a tie. The second was five straight in the second half. Their scoring run to finish the Orange off came in them middle of this.
Yellow Cards and Fouls: Syracuse had three yellow cards in this game and Northwestern cashed in on two of those man-up opportunities. The Wildcats also scored on SU’s lone man-up situation. It’s the third man-down goal the Orange have given up this year. SU also registered 24 fouls against 15 for NU. This led to a couple of negation of turnovers, five free positions (more on this below) and passed up opportunities on the offensive end.
Turnovers: The turnover margin was considerable with 18 Wildcat turnovers compared to only 10 for SU. However, Syracuse could not take full advantage of this. While SU did wind up going 5-4 against Northwestern on goals off of turnovers, this meant that the Wildcats scored almost 50% of the time off of Orange miscues as opposed to roughly a third going the other way. In addition, a full third of Northwestern’s turnovers were negated by Syracuse handing possession right back to them shortly after.
Free Positions: Both teams had five free positions in this game. Northwestern got three of their goals from these situations. Conversely, SU had no goals to show for in this game. The Orange have been doing well in free position attempts for the year with almost a 60% rate going into the Cornell game. Part of it is that Krupnick did a good job making saves (three of her saves were on free positions). But Syracuse has struggled in the last three games in this category, going 3-of-14. Given that a good chunk of SU’s total goals this year have come off of free positions, the downward trend is alarming.
Syracuse now has to travel to New Jersey to face No.19/RV Princeton on Thursday evening at 5 p.m. ET. The Tigers are currently 4-3 this year and are struggling a little bit, losing two of their last three. Princeton has a much younger team this year and lost a lot of major players from the previous spring. The Tigers won 16-11 over SU in 2017, behind a nine-point (7 g, 2 a) performance by Olivia Hompe (who graduated last year). Syracuse will be looking for some payback and a chance to halt a two-game slide.