For the second straight game, the No. 5/5 Syracuse Orange women’s lacrosse team (14-3, 5-2 ACC) found itself in a hole early on. The Orange slowly managed to dig itself out of the deficit and hold on to beat a pesky Cornell Big Red squad 16-13 on Tuesday evening in the Dome. With this regular season finale, SU has eight days to prepare for the ACC Tournament which will start next Thursday.
The Big Red (8-5) crashed Senior Night in the Dome in quick fashion. Ellie Walsh took a pass from Olivia Jensen in the middle of the fan and flipped a shot from her right hip past starting senior goalie Bri Stahrr. Just 18 seconds later, Walsh scored from almost the same position, this time against Asa Goldstock. The pair of quick strikes by the sophomore midfielder put Cornell up 2-0 just 71 seconds into the contest. Jensen followed up several minutes later with a pair of goals of her own (she would finish with five on the night) and the Big Red were up 4-0 with 23:16 left in the half.
The Orange slowly picked up the intensity and chipped away at the deficit and finally got on the board almost ten minutes in. Megan Carney shot low off of a free position pass by Natalie Wallon to give the ‘Cuse their first goal of the night at the 20:24 mark of the first half. Emily Hawryschuk tacked on another score just a minute later as she juked past her Cornell defender and found a seam in the defense. Her shot found the upper left side of the cage and SU cut the Big Red advantage in half, 4-2 at the 19:25 mark.
The defense clamped down on Cornell following the early blitz, allowing just a pair of goals for the rest of the half. The Orange offense steadily found its footing as Morgan Alexander, Hawryschuk and Sam Swart (twice) all found the back of the net. Both teams headed into the locker room knotted up at 6-6.
Syracuse got its first lead of the game just 44 seconds out of the break when Meaghan Tyrrell found a space between two Cornell defenders and broke through, hitting the upper left corner of the cage. Wallon tacked on another goal about two minutes later and the Orange had an 8-6 advantage with 27:44 left in the contest. The two teams traded a goal before Wallon gave SU their largest lead of the night at 10-7 with 20:02 left. It looked like the ‘Cuse would finally break the game wide open.
However, as had happened a number of times this season, the Orange could not put their opponent away. The Big Red went on a 5-1 run over a seven minute stretch to retake the lead at 12-11 with 12:33 left. But as had also occurred a number of times this year, Syracuse was able to find a way to finish and regained the momentum. The Orange were able to outscore Cornell 5-1 the rest of the way to secure the win.
- Shots: Syracuse 37, Cornell 27
- Shots on Goal: Syracuse 25, Cornell 19
- Turnovers: Cornell 17, Syracuse 8
- Clears: Syracuse 20-21, Cornell 16-19
- Ground Balls: Syracuse 20, Cornell 15
- Draw Controls: Cornell 17, Syracuse 14
- Free Positions: Cornell 2-4, Syracuse 0-4
Hawryschuk (3 g, 3 a, 1 gb), Tyrrell (4 g, 1 a, 2 gb), Wallon (2 g, 2 a, 3 gb, 4 ct, 1 dc), Alexander (3 g, 1 gb, 1 ct), Swart (3 g, 1 gb), Carney (1 g), Nicole Levy (2 a), Ella Simkins (2 gb, 2 ct), Kerry Defliese (2 gb, 1 ct), Grace Fahey (1 gb, 1 ct, 3 dc), Alexa Radziewicz & Lila Nazarian (2 gb each), Allyson Trice (1 gb ), Mary Rahal (1 ct), Sarah Cooper & Morgan Widner (5 dc each), Goldstock (2 gb, 6 saves)
The Turning Point
In a contest that featured a number of runs, the Big Red made a late surge that transformed a 10-7 Syracuse lead into a 12-11 Cornell advantage with just 12:33 left in the game. It was a point in the contest where SU had looked like it had turned the corner and was ready to put the game away. It was not to be and instead, it was the Big Red who had the momentum and a chance to break it open.
Cornell got the ensuing draw control and pushed it into the Syracuse defensive zone. Tomasina Leska took a shot in traffic at the 12 minute mark, but it went wide. It was backed up by the Big Red and they had another opportunity. Leska again tried to get inside to shoot, but Defliese poked the ball out of her stick and batted it into the goal crease for Goldstock to pick it up.
Following some passing around in the back end, Swart moved the ball into the Cornell zone and the Orange set up their offense. Eventually, Hawryschuk drove along the front of the goal and simply beat out several Big Red defenders. Her shot went into the lower left corner of the cage and Syracuse tied it up at 12 with 10:45 left.
Widner grabbed the ensuing draw control and tried to pass it back, but she was stick-checked from behind by Cornell midfielder Grace Paletta and the ball bounced away. Defliese was able to bat the ball forward to Simkins, who pushed it upfield and the Orange were able to set up their offense again. After several passes around the perimeter, Swart pitched the ball to Rahal, who made a move to goal. Rahal pulled Swart’s defender to her as she drove in, leaving the latter wide open in front of the cage. Rahal sent it back to Swart, who fired high, but it was blocked by Big Red goalie Katie McGahan, but the sophomore midfielder was ready. The ball dropped back into Swart’s stick and her second effort, a low bounce shot, went by McGahan and SU retook the lead at 13-12 with 9:59 remaining.
Widner managed to corral the next draw control, but Levy was double-teamed a minute later and Cornell was able to force a turnover. The Big Red had an opportunity to tie it back up, but a pass inside to Shannon Bertscha was mishandled in traffic and Goldstock was able to smother it. The Orange passed the ball efficiently upfield and at the 7:02 mark, Alexander (note: the box score credits Levy with the assist, but the replay clearly shows that it was Alexander who passed it to Tyrrell) fed it to Tyrrell who was behind the cage. The freshman attacker snuck around the left side of the crease and dumped a bounce shot between McGahan’s legs and SU was up 14-12. Alexander herself would score just 20 seconds later to seal the win.
The teams would trade goals towards the end of the game, but this sequence on both ends of the field was the difference in the contest. It enabled the Orange to regain momentum at a critical point and finally put the game away.
Stepping Up When It Mattered: While it’s true that Syracuse has had trouble putting teams away this year, there’s no question that this team generally picks up the intensity when the game is on the line. Cornell had a lot of energy after they went ahead 12-11, but the Orange defense had two big stops while the offense went on a four goal tear to clinch the victory.
Widner On The Draw: The junior draw control specialist has been rock solid lately and has steadily become the go-to player in the last several games. She finished with five of the Orange’s 14 draws on the night, including that key pair during the final comeback late in the game.
Orange Defense: Syracuse did give up 13 goals, but nine of those came in an overall 15 minute stretch. Most of the time, they held down the Cornell attack pretty well, particularly in the first half, when they allowed just two Big Red goals in the last 23 minutes of the half and just one in the final 12 minutes of the contest.
Turnovers: The Orange were rocked back on their heels initially, but they recovered well enough to force a 2:1 turnover ratio for the game. Cornell had 17 turnovers to SU’s eight and that was a major difference in this game.
Syracuse will travel to Newton, Mass. for the ACC Tournament next week as Boston College will be hosting it this year. The question is who they will play, and the answer is either Virginia or Virginia Tech, and I’ll give a detailed breakdown in another article that will come out later this week.