With the regular season winding down, the No. 16/19 Syracuse Orange are looking for any win they can get to secure an NCAA Tournament bid. However, the lacrosse god(esses) did not oblige on Thursday evening as the Orange (8-8, 0-6) fell to No. 2/2 Boston College (17-0, 7-0) 13-12 on a last-second goal by Sam Apuzzo. This marks the first time that SU is not above .500 this season and they remain without a win in the ACC.
The Eagles opened with three goals in the first four minutes of the game. As with the rest of the evening, the Orange played catch up. Neena Merola, Emily Hawryschuk and Taylor Gait all scored to tie the game at three midway though the first half. Boston College responded with another run, this time of four goals to push their lead to 7-3 with 8:35 remaining. And again, when it looked like the Eagles would blow the game open, the ‘Cuse fought their way back into it. Mary Rahal, Sam Swart, Molly Carter and Hawryschuk all registered goals over a five minute period to tie the game back up at 7 apiece with just 3:36 left in the half. In what looked to be a foreshadowing towards the end of the game, Boston College finished the scoring just before halftime. Tess Chandler took an Apuzzo pass and scored with 21 seconds left to put the Eagles up 8-7 at the intermission.
Boston College extended the lead at the beginning of the second half with a pair of goals for a 10-7 advantage just two minutes in. For a third time, Syracuse responded with a trio of goals by Riley Donahue and Rahal (2) to tie the game back up with 19 minutes remaining. Apuzzo gave the Eagles the lead once again with a goal at the 13:26 mark.
The Orange evened the game a fourth time when Rahal scored at the 9:14 mark. SU finally broke through the barrier four minutes later when Swart scored off of a Vanessa Constantino feed and took its first lead at 12-11 with just 5:19 left. The lead lasted just two minutes as Apuzzo found the back of the net to knot it up at 12 with just 3:11 remaining. Syracuse had a chance to take the lead again when Swart took a shot that was saved by Eagles goalie Lauren Daly.
BC regained possession and called a timeout with 1:50 left. Boston College used the clock and then moved in at around the one minute mark when SU made a critical error. Dempsey Arsenault tried to put one past Asa Goldstock as she fell to the ground, but the SU goalie made the save and it looked like the Orange would get a final chance to win. However, Merola was called for the yellow card, presumably for a head check to Arsenault. However, replaying that scene a half dozen times, I could not see the instance where Merola hit her in the head. There was some bumping and that could have and did wind up being a foul and a free position, but there was nothing to indicate that a yellow card should have been called.
The turn of events led to Merola having to sit for two minutes (which meant the rest of regulation or a BC goal), giving the Eagles both a free position and a man-up situation. Arsenault’s shot hit the top crossbar, bounced back and rolled to the restraining line. Donahue picked it up, pushed upfield and over the midfield line where Coach Gait called a time out with 55 seconds left.
Off of the timeout, Donahue tried to clear, but was hounded by a pair of Boston College players. She passed back to Goldstock, who crossed midfield and started to drift towards the right sideline. A double team cornered her in a bad position and she stepped out of bounds when she tried to get rid of it. Boston College regained possession and called a time out with just 21 ticks left.
The Eagles quickly moved the ball into the offensive zone and worked to get a shot off. Taylor Walker dropped a pass, but managed to recover it. With just two seconds left, sent a high pass to Apuzzo in front of the goal. The Boston College attacker grabbed the pass, twisted and sent a shot past Goldstock just inside the lower left post as she fell down for the winner.
Shots: Boston College 37, Syracuse 27
Shots on Goal: Boston College 25, Syracuse 13
Turnovers: Syracuse 20 (16 caused), Boston College 14 (8 caused)
Clears: Boston College 12-13, Syracuse 14-21
Ground Balls: Boston College 31, Syracuse 21
Draw Controls: Boston College 14, Syracuse 13
Fouls: Syracuse 25 (1 yellow card), Boston College 23 (1 yellow card, 1 green card)
Free Positions: Boston College: 0-9, Syracuse: 0-6
Rahal led the team in scoring with four goals, Constantino had three assists, Swart and Hawryschuk each had a pair of goals, Gait and Donahue each had a goal and an assist, Merola and Carter had a goal each. Ella Simkins had four ground balls and a caused turnover, Alexa Radziewicz had two ground balls and a caused turnover, Kerry Defliese had a pair of caused turnovers, Merola and Hawryschuk had five draw controls each, Goldstock had 12 saves against 13 goals, plus three ground balls.
Honestly, I thought this game had the potential to get real ugly given how good Boston College is and how Syracuse has played the last couple of weeks. However, the Orange defense did a great job with some key turnovers (14 BC turnovers) and hounded Boston College all day. This game literally went down to the wire and it was a glimpse of what this SU team is capable of.
Draw Controls: Boston College may have won the draw control battle 14-13 (and BC “won” it with a quick grab at the end of regulation), but this is probably the best I’ve seen this team do at the draw circle all year against an outstanding Eagle unit. In the last few games, Hawryschuk has done an excellent job filling in as a draw specialist and she could be someone to watch next year in this role.
Orange offensive attack: I thought the offense did a pretty good job with feeds to the cutters tonight, something that they’ve had problems with the last few games. I also liked some of the aggressiveness I saw in one-on-one situations in front of the goal to get scores. Nothing specific, but it was a solid performance.
Goldstock: Once again, she had a really good game in goalie with some fantastic saves, particularly in the second half. She really kept SU in the game when it looked like the Eagles would blow the game open.
Turnovers: This was pretty much the difference in the game, in my opinion. The Orange made so many mistakes in the first half with really bad passes, an insistence on trying to fight through double, triple or even quadruple teams and an overall poor field awareness that led to some easy stick checks. While it is true that the Eagles performed well with a lot of pressure defense, Syracuse played into those situations a lot and it cost them a bunch of scoring opportunities. This was cleaned up a bit in the second half, but the Orange should have been ready for the BC double team coming out of their final timeout with 55 seconds left in the game.
Here’s a breakdown of by halves:
- 1st half: Syracuse 4-9 on clears, 16 turnovers, Boston College 19-13 ground balls
- 2nd half: Syracuse 10-12 on clears, 4 turnovers, Boston College 12-8 ground balls
Despite the all of the miscues in the 1st half, the Orange were only down 8-7 at the half.
Free Positions: None. Nada. Zip. Both teams combined for 0-15 free positions on the evening.
Syracuse will finish up their regular season with a home finale on Sunday, April 22 against Louisville (6-9, 0-6 ACC) at 1 p.m. ET in the Carrier Dome for Senior Day. The game will be streamed on WatchESPN through the ACCNetwork. Needless to say, this is a literal must win for the Orange. A win gives them the 7-seed in the ACCT to face 2-seed North Carolina in the first round, but more importantly, it means that Syracuse will finish .500 worst-case scenario and still be eligible for the NCAAT. A loss to the Cardinals will put them at the bottom of the ACC to face top seed Boston College again in the first round. It also means that SU will be 8-9 going into this tournament and needing at least two wins just to get to .500 (accounting for the eventual loss).