With a two-game losing streak and the postseason starting to creep up, the Syracuse Orange traveled to New Jersey on Thursday evening desperately seeking a needed win against the No. 19/RV Princeton Tigers. Despite a very sloppy game in which both teams combined for 39 turnovers, 54 fouls and four cards, the No. 12/11 Orange persevered and came away with a 17-16 win that came down to the final seconds.
The ‘Cuse (7-4) scored the first three goals and pulled out to an 8-3 lead on a nice transition goal by Molly Carter. The lead was SU’s largest of the game and they took a 9-5 advantage into the break.
Princeton (4-4) got back into the game by taking advantage of a number of Orange miscues to take its first and only lead of the game. Tess D’Orsi’s unassisted goal at the 14:29 mark gave Princeton a 12-11 lead. Cara Quimby put the ‘Cuse back up for good with a man-up goal at the 10:27 mark. Constantino added another one and the Orange led 15-13 with 8:34 remaining. Princeton threatened again a minute later when D’Orsi took a pass from Kyla Sears and scored. Sam Swart scored a man-up goal while Carter added another to increase the SU advantage to 17-14.
The draw control problem reared its ugly head again as Princeton used back to back wins in the circle to score. Sears’ free position goal with just 2:55 left cut the Syracuse lead to 17-16. SU gained the next draw and proceeded to grind out the clock. The Orange got a break at the 1:26 mark when Sears took a foul to reset the shot clock. However, the Tigers’ Alex Argo caused a turnover when she came up behind Emily Resnick and knocked the ball loose, which gave possession back to the Tigers.
Princeton’s scoring opportunity fell short when Ellie McNulty, who was just off the right post, missed the pass from Colby Chanenchuk. Swart pushed the ball towards the right sideline as she tried to corral it. It became a race between Swart and two Tiger players for possession as the ball continued to bounce and roll towards the sideline. She grabbed it momentarily, lost it and was then pushed out of bounds. With the push foul, Syracuse regained possession with just 35.6 ticks left and was able to, after some referee confusion, run out the clock to seal the victory.
Princeton outshot Syracuse 32-30 overall and 26-24 on goal. The Tigers won the ground balls 21-15 while the Orange took the draw control battle 18-16. As said above, there were a lot of turnovers; 20 for SU and 19 for Princeton. The Tigers hit 5-9 of their free position shots, while SU went scoreless for the second game in a row at 0-3. Neither team did well with clears as Princeton was 19-23 while Syracuse finished 16-22. The Tigers ended up with 28 fouls, two yellow cards and a green card. The Orange had 26 fouls and a yellow card.
Four ‘Cuse players had four points in this game. Alyssa Constantino and Swart each had three goals and an assist. Riley Donahue and Bella Recchion had a pair of goals and assists. Hawryschuk and Gait each had a goal and two assists. Carter and Quimby added a pair of goals. Neena Merola finished off the scoring with a goal and added seven draw controls. Lila Nazarian had a big defensive effort with six ground balls and three caused turnovers. Mia DiBello had a ground ball and two caused turnovers. Asa Goldstock had eight saves against 13 goals. Hannah Van Middelem had some time in goal in the second half and gave up three goals against two saves.
On the offensive end, Swart and Carter’s goals at the 5:40 and 4:12 marks towards the end was just enough to keep Syracuse ahead in the late game, but the McNulty’s miscue at the end was huge. Chanenchuk had pulled the double team and there was no one near McNulty. If she had pulled in that pass, she would have been in a very good position to score.
Draw Controls: The Orange did a good job in the draw circle this evening and this definitely helped in terms of scoring and just keeping possession away from the Tigers at key moments when they looked to get back into the game or take the lead. Without the draws, Princeton could very well have gotten back in sooner and perhaps turned the game around.
Fouls/Cards: Both teams combined for 54 fouls and four cards and that contributed to a lot of unnecessary goals on both sides. Syracuse scored two goals off of both Princeton yellow cards, but the Tigers also got one on the lone SU card, plus five more off of free positions. Princeton’s green card occurred with just 16 seconds left and left them a man down as they tried to regain possession. This card certainly made the ‘Cuse’s task easier to seal the game.
Free Positions: Princeton scored five of their 16 goals off of free positions on nine attempts. SU’s free position woes continue as they have not scored one since the 6:49 mark of the second half against Notre Dame. In their last four games, the Orange are now 3-17 on free position shots. Given that the team was close to 60% shooting prior to this stretch, that’s a lot of points left on the field and could very well have turned those two losses around.
Turnovers: For the second straight game, Syracuse did a good job creating turnovers with 18 against Northwestern and 19 against Princeton. Unfortunately, SU had more. Twenty turnovers is pretty bad no matter how you slice it and if it wasn’t for the Tigers playing equally sloppy at times, it could have cost Syracuse the game. Another point to consider; 14 of Princeton’s 19 turnovers were caused by SU. Conversely, just nine of the Orange’s 20 were. That means over 50% of the turnovers were due to unforced errors, which has been a problem all year long. Given that the ‘Cuse still has three top ten teams left on its schedule, this could be a backbreaker.
It should be said that SU made some really nice plays that led to some exciting goals. One of these occurred at the 8:48 mark of the first half. SU had fended off a Princeton offensive set and Goldstock had possession. The SU goalie launched the ball downfield where it one hopped into the Tiger defensive zone to Hawryschuk. The attacker raced downfield towards the left center fan where she tossed it to a waiting Carter who was standing just a couple of meters off of the right side post. Carter faked to her right which pulled a Princeton defender and the goalie, found an open shot and scored. All of this happened in 11 seconds and it gave Syracuse an 8-3 lead with 8:34 left (the clock ticked down three seconds after she scored).
Syracuse has little time to enjoy this win as they have to travel back home to face ACC foe No. 20/20 Duke on Saturday in the Dome at Noon ET. The Blue Devils are 6-4, 1-2 in the ACC. This is a big game for both teams as they position themselves for seeding in the ACC Tournament.