The middle leg of the three-game road trip for the No. 3 Syracuse Orange women's lacrosse team was not a good one, as they fell to the No. 13 Florida Gators on Wednesday evening in Gainesville, 14-10.
The Orange were never really in this game, as they got down 4-0 five minutes in, and were down 6-0 late in the first quarter. They were never able to get closer than four goals the rest of the game as Florida kept them at bay and made sure a Duke-style comeback did not happen.
We’re back at it Saturday at Virginia Tech at 1 p.m. pic.twitter.com/JdbAI7pYQr— Syracuse Women's Lacrosse (@CuseWLAX) March 17, 2022
The high-powered strength of this Syracuse team, the offense, was suffocated in this one by a Florida defense that played a spectacular game. All night long, it was a struggle for SU to even get the volume of quality looks they normally do, let alone actually put them away. The Orange only mustered 14 shots in the first three quarters combined. In the fourth quarter alone, they finally exploded for 12 shots, but getting only 14 in the first 45 minutes is a recipe for a big deficit. It’s a credit to the Florida defense, and that’s before we even get to their goalie...
Headlining the UF defensive effort was All-American goalie Sarah Reznick, who made sure that even when the Orange did get good looks, that they were still going to have to work to find the net. Reznick came up with 11 saves on the evening, many of them from close range or right on the doorstep, for a 52 percent save percentage.
For the second time in three games, the Syracuse defense was completely unable to make a stop in the first quarter, which put the Orange into comeback mode right away. Just like they did in the Duke game, the defense adjusted and played well for the final three quarters, giving up only eight goals the rest of the way after six in the first. However, it’s clear that those types of lapses simply can’t happen because consistently falling behind by six or more goals is not good for the long-term viability of this team.
This game really highlighted the idea that having an elite goalie in women’s lacrosse is a difference maker. While Reznick, last year’s second-team All-American, spent the night saving more shots than she let in, SU’s tandem of Kimber Hower and Delaney Sweitzer stumbled to four combined saves for a save percentage of 22 percent.
Florida themselves only got off 12 shots in the first half. That’s not a huge number. The problem there is that they scored on 10 of those 12 shots. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that when SU’s opponents shoot 83 percent at any point in the game, that’s not going to end well for the Orange.
Now, that’s not all on Hower and Sweitzer. It’s on the defense as a unit. But the bottom line is this: Syracuse’s team save percentage on the season is now 28.8 percent through eight games. That’s terrible. In Asa Goldstock’s five years as SU’s starting goalie, that number never dipped below 40 percent. We always knew that replacing Asa was going to be very difficult if not impossible, but if the current number doesn’t rise significantly, I’m not sure the offense will be able to score enough goals to keep up with our opponents.
The Orange did make a bit of a charge in the fourth quarter, scoring three straight goals and outscoring the Gators 4-1 in the frame. But by then it was far too late against a Florida defense having far too good a game to even get close to completing a comeback.
Emily Hawryschuk had the best numbers on a bad day for the SU offense, scoring a hat trick plus an assist for four points. The Tyrrell sisters each had two points on Emma’s two goals and Meaghan’s goal and assist, and that was it for the multiple-point scorers in this game for the Orange. Meg Carney added one goal, as well. Suffice to say, anytime the Megs score three points between them, that’s going to be an uphill battle for SU to win the game.
The Orange will look to bounce back when they complete their road trip this Saturday, March 19 as they visit the No. 24 Virginia Tech Hokies at 1 PM on ACC Network Extra.