The fifth-seeded Syracuse Orange women’s lacrosse season came to an end on Saturday with an 18-14 loss to the No. 4 Northwestern Wildcats in Evanston. The Orange (16-5) never led or tied it up in the contest.
The Wildcats (16-4) set the pace early on with three goals in the first five minutes to take a 3-0 lead. Syracuse came back over the next six minutes and cut it to one at 4-3 when Emily Hawryschuk slipped past two Northwestern defenders and got it past Wildcat goalie Mallory Weisse. That was the closest the ‘Cuse would get for the rest of the game. The Wildcats responded with a 6-0 run over a seven and a half minute stretch to push their lead out to 10-3. Megan Carney ended the Syracuse scoring drought with 59 seconds left in the half as Northwestern headed into the locker room with a 10-4 advantage.
The Orange cut the lead to five just 42 seconds in when Natalie Wallon found the back of the net. Northwestern’s Selena Lasota and SU’s Hawryschuk traded goals over the next couple of minutes to keep the Wildcat lead at five with 27:15 left in the game. At this point, thunderstorms put the game on hold for two hours as both teams headed back to the locker rooms.
Hawryschuk picked up where she left off before the rain delay (she had scored just before the game stoppage) with another score to cut the Northwestern lead to 11-7 with 26:28 left to play. However, the Wildcats went on a devastating three goal run that erased any gains that the Orange had made since the end of the first half, pushing the lead back out to seven at 14-7 with 23 minutes left.
Syracuse did not go quietly and made one final push to catch up. Meaghan Tyrrell, Carney, Sam Swart and Hawryschuk were instrumental in a 6-1 Orange run that cut the lead down to just a pair of goals at 15-13 with 8:10 remaining.
Northwestern finally put the game away those final minutes, which included another killer two goal run 8 seconds apart to take a 17-13 lead with 7:09 left. Hawryschuk would get the final score for the Orange at the 3:35 mark, but Northwestern drove the final nail in the coffin when Megan Kinna had an open look on goal with 33 seconds left to finish the scoring.
- Shots: Northwestern 33, Syracuse 24
- Shots on Goal: Northwestern 24, Syracuse 22
- Turnovers: Northwestern 15, Syracuse 13
- Clears: Northwestern 17-18, Syracuse 14-16
- Ground Balls: Northwestern 14, Syracuse 12
- Draw Controls: Northwestern 17, Syracuse 16
- Free Positions: Syracuse 4-8, Northwestern 4-9
Hawryschuk (5 g, 1 gb, 1 ct, 10 dc), Carney (4 g, 1 a), Tyrrell (3 g), Wallon (1 g, 1 a), Swart (1 g), Mary Rahal (1 a, 1 gb), Sarah Cooper (2 gb, 1 ct, 3 dc), Ella Simkins (1 gb, 2 ct), Nicole Levy (2 gb, 1 dc), Kerry Defliese (2 gb), Grace Fahey (1 gb, 1 dc), Alexa Radziewicz (1 ct), Morgan Widner (1 dc), Asa Goldstock (2 gb, 6 saves)
The Turning Point
There were several situations in this game where Syracuse came close to getting back into it, only to see Northwestern slam the door shut.
One of them occurred just after the weather delay and the Hawryschuk score that cut the Wildcat lead to four at 11-7 with 26:28 left. Northwestern scored three goals in less than two minutes to match their largest lead of the day at 14-7 with about 23 minutes left in the game. At the time, the short run erased a three goal gain that took the Orange about eight minutes to cut. That was certainly a big impact moment as SU had to restart their comeback attempt from scratch.
Another came later in the 2nd half after the ‘Cuse had clawed their way back to within two at 15-13 with 8:10 remaining. Again, at the time, the Orange had put themselves back in the game and they had come from behind similarly in other games with much less time on the clock. Northwestern, however, was able to get the next two draw controls and score within 8 seconds of each other at the 7:17 and 7:09 marks that extended the lead back out to four. That effectively ended the contest as the Orange were able to get only two more shots (one of which was a score) the rest of the way.
But it was ultimately the 18+ stretch of the first half where Syracuse lost the game. The Orange offense completely stalled between 19:20 and 59 seconds left, while the Wildcats were able to go on a 6-0 run to push a 4-3 lead to an insurmountable 10-3 advantage. From that point on, Syracuse had to play major catch up and while they did come close a couple of times in the second half, Northwestern proved to be too good of a team to overcome that kind of a deficit.
Orange scoring drought: As stated above, the period of 18 minutes and then some was pretty much the difference in the contest. That was basically almost a third of the game where the offense remained unproductive and it’s something that’s occurred in almost every game this year. Most of the time, Syracuse has been able to overcome this issue due to stingy defensive play, but not on Saturday.
Orange defense: Northwestern’s 18 goals were by far the most that the SU defense has given up all year. The backline looked very porous as the Wildcats were able to pass inside and find seams all game long for fairly easy goals. It was a bit surprising since this has been Syracuse’s strong point for most of the season. Goldstock had an off game with just six saves against 18 goals and while she could have had a better game, the defense did her no favors by allowing a number of point blank shots on goal.
Northwestern offense: It’s been their strength all year long and they were very efficient on Saturday with an 18 for 24 shot on goal performance (had 33 shots overall). It was a balanced effort too, with seven players scoring a pair or more goals. They made it look easy against an SU backline that was giving up only 10 goals a game on average coming into Saturday.
Draw Controls: Syracuse had an improved performance against the Wildcats. Back in February, Northwestern won the draw control battle 20-11. This time around, it was only a 17-16 advantage. There has been a big improvement in this area for the Orange that will be important going into next year.
Syracuse’s 2019 campaign is finished, but I’m going to do a season wrap-up that will summarize what happened this year as well as give some insight to the Orange’s prospects in 2020.