On Saturday night in Evanston, Ill., both the No. 7/7 Syracuse Orange and No. 6/6 Northwestern Wildcats women’s lacrosse squads needed a win. The Orange were looking to bounce back from a close loss to Stony Brook last Monday evening, while the Wildcats were defeated by Notre Dame last Friday night.
It took a while, but the ‘Cuse (4-1) were able to pull away late in the second half to net their first big win in 2020 with a 16-11 victory over NU. It was also the first time ever that SU has won in Evanston.
Both teams started out slowly, with each netting a pair of goals in the first 14 minutes of the game. Syracuse took advantage of early Wildcat (3-2) miscues to build a four goal lead at 7-3 with about five minutes left in the half.
However, as had happened with the Stony Brook game, the Orange lost momentum with some mistakes of their own. Northwestern, switching to a pressure D, made the most of opportunities and scored the last five goals of the half to take an 8-7 lead going into the break.
Meaghan Tyrell knotted it back up at eight just a minute in from the break on a transition goal. It proved to be the only score by either team for the next eight minutes. The Wildcats regained the lead with a pair of goals for a 10-8 advantage with 19:50 left.
The Orange defense clamped down from that point on while the offense figured out how to beat Northwestern’s defensive pressure. The ‘Cuse patiently went on a five goal run over the next 12 minutes to take the lead at 13-10 with 6:42 left.
The Wildcats threatened to get back into the game a minute later when Lauren Gilbert scored on a free position goal to cut the advantage to two. However, the Syracuse defense made a critical stop which was followed by a Northwestern yellow card. Emily Hawryschuk took over in the last five minutes and coupled with a pair of Morgan Widner draws, scored the last three goals to seal the win for the Orange.
Tonight’s a big one. #allaboard pic.twitter.com/U6s58G6Clw— Syracuse Women's Lax (@CuseWLAX) February 22, 2020
- Shots: Syracuse 34, Northwestern 24
- Shots on Goal: Syracuse 27, Northwestern 19
- Turnovers: Northwestern 22, Syracuse 16
- Clears: Northwestern 12-14, Syracuse 16-20
- Ground Balls: Syracuse 23, Northwestern 20
- Draw Controls: Northwestern 16, Syracuse 14
- Free Positions: Northwestern 5-9, Syracuse 5-10
Hawryschuk (6 g, 4 gb, 2 ct, 3 dc), Tyrrell (5 g, 1 a, 1 gb, 1 ct), Sierra Cockerille (2 g), Megan Carney (1 g, 1 a, 1 gb, 2 ct), Sam Swart (1 g, 1 gb), Vanessa Costantino (1 g), Bianca Chevarie (1 a, 1 gb, 1 ct, 1 dc), Kerry Defliese (4 gb, 1 ct), Sarah Cooper (2 gb, 2 ct), Grace Fahey (1 gb, 1 ct), Mary Rahal (1 gb, 1 ct), Ella Simkins & Lila Nazarian (1 gb each), Allyson Trice (1 ct), Widner (6 dc), Asa Goldstock (5 gb, 8 saves)
The Turning Point
Gilbert had just scored on a free position with 5:33 left, which broke up a five goal Syracuse run to make it 13-11. On the ensuing draw control, Northwestern’s draw specialist Brennan Dwyer won a 50/50 on the ground and shouldered her way into the NU offensive zone. Redshirt senior attacker Liza Elder had a chance when she fired high from about four meters out, but Goldstock was able to block it. The Wildcats were able to back it up and retain possession. Shortly after, Sara Szynal had a free position on the hashmark just next to the extreme right of the arc. The senior attacker elected to pass it off to Izzy Scane instead of going to goal. Scane attempted to pass inside, but it was intercepted by Cooper. Defliese was finally able to make the clear past the restraining line.
The Orange started to work the clock by moving it around the fan. The Wildcats reacted by pushing out to pressure Syracuse into making a turnover. A double team on Tyrrell on the right goal line extended (just beyond the fan) wound up with the sophomore attacker being hit in the head by junior midfielder Megan Gordon. This resulted in a critical yellow card being called on the latter with just four minutes left. It gave the ‘Cuse a man-up opportunity for two minutes and reset the shot clock from 57 seconds to a full 90.
Syracuse casually milked the time and made their move as the shot clock wound down. With just 12 seconds left , Hawryschuk made her move. Coming in from the center left of the fan, she dodged left past midfielder Megan Kinna and took a shot as defender Ally Palermo moved in to block. It bounced low and goalie Madison Doucette was able to initially save it. However, the ball bounced out of her stick and rolled just outside the goal crease. Hawryschuk had continued forward and was able to take advantage of the opportunity. The senior attacker scooped up the ball and fired over Doucette as she was still getting up from the low save with just six ticks left on the shot clock. The man-up score pushed the lead back out to three with just 2:36 left in the game.
A foul against Dwyer on the ensuing draw control gave possession back to the Orange. The Wildcats desperately pressured Syracuse into making a mistake, but efficient passing led to the backbreaker just 42 seconds later. As Northwestern extended their defense, cracks immediately began to appear and Hawryschuk waited on the left goal line extended just beyond the goal circle. She took a pass and managed to slide inside past defender Ivy Arlia towards the goal. Hawryschuk took a shot as several Wildcats closed in and put it past Doucette to make it 15-11.
With just 1:54 left in the game, the long shot chance for Northwestern dissipated when Widner corralled the draw control. That enabled Syracuse to wind down the clock and gave Hawryschuk the opportunity to score a third goal with 20 seconds left and with just one tick on the shot clock.
Let’s do this @allaboard pic.twitter.com/vbTUGpiQdl— Syracuse Women's Lax (@CuseWLAX) February 23, 2020
Hawryschuk & Tyrrell: Although the former was responsible for sealing the win for the Orange with those two critical goals mentioned above, Tyrrell was important in the early and middle stages of the game when the offense stalled. The sophomore attacker had three of SU’s seven goals in the first half and added another at the beginning of the second half to tie it back up. Both combined for 11 of Syracuse’s 16 goals on the night.
Defense: Once again, the backline came up big for the ‘Cuse on Saturday night. Northwestern came into the game with the reputation for a prolific offense, averaging 24 goals a game (and had 15 against Notre Dame). Syracuse held the Wildcats to just three goals in the first 25 minutes of the game. In the second half, NU could manage only three goals total and two of those came in the first ten minutes or so. Only one was scored in the final 20 minutes (Gilbert’s free position at the 5:33 mark). They stifled the Wildcat attack for the most part all night long, forcing turnovers and making it hard for them to get good shots on goal. Goldstock had a solid night with eight saves against 11 goals.
Draw Controls: Although Northwestern won this battle 16-14, one has to wonder if a page has been turned regarding this series. In 2018 and 2019 (regular season), The Wildcats outdrew Syracuse 38-22 in those games. In the last two games (2019 NCAAT quarters and Saturday night) that margin has closed considerably to 33-30. Although Hawryschuk scored the goals in the final few minutes, Widner is an unsung hero who won two huge draws to help preserve the victory. If she doesn’t get those two draws, the Orange would not have been able to run down the clock, much less score. She finished with six on the night, or just about half of the SU total. Hawryschuck finished with three more and Simkins had a pair to lead the ‘Cuse.
Sloppiness: Both teams combined for 38 turnovers in the game (22 for NU, 16 for SU). Although Northwestern had its share of problems, Syracuse had a season high 16 turnovers as well as just an 80% clear rate (16-20). Some of those were caused by the Wildcats pressure, but there were a lot of errant passes by Orange players on Saturday night. Avoidable turnovers and poor shots on goal (probably half of Doucette’s 11 saves were shots right at her) left a lot of points on the field as SU could have taken care of this win a lot earlier. This needs to get cleaned up by Friday when they face Maryland.
However, it should also be said that when push came to shove, the offense did manage to rally and get back into the game in the second half, when Northwestern was leading 10-8. They didn’t fold, finally figured out the Wildcats’ pressure D and got back into the game. Free positions were solid in this game, with Syracuse going 5-10.
SU has a quick turnaround, heading back to Dome to face Colgate on Monday evening. The Raiders are 2-0 this year with wins over Marist and Vermont. Game time is at 5 p.m. ET and will be livestreamed on ACCNX.