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No. 3 Syracuse women’s lacrosse suffers late-game collapse, loses to No. 6 Northwestern, 16-15

And what happened on that free-position call in overtime?

2021 NCAA Division I Women’s Lacrosse Championship Photo by Greg Fiume/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

In a frightening display of deja vu, the Syracuse Orange women’s lacrosse team blew a late lead on Tuesday evening in part two of their road trip versus the No. 6 Northwestern Wildcats, losing 16-15 in overtime.

Just three days after narrowly avoiding collapse with an overtime win against Notre Dame, SU’s fourth quarter problems continued.

When Emily Hawryschuk scored her sixth goal of the game with 4:23 left to play, it put the Orange ahead 15-12. It felt for a moment like that goal was going to put the game out of reach, but apparently not to Northwestern. The Wildcats scored three goals in the final three and a half minutes to send ‘Cuse to OT for the second straight game. This time, however, the Orange would lose the opening draw control and, on the ensuing possession, the game.

Unfortunately, the game was decided on a (at least for me) mystery call that gave Northwestern star Lauren Gilbert a free position opportunity for the win, which she proceeded to put away.

And so ended a three game run that saw Syracuse continually play with fire and finally get burned. Here’s a scary nugget for those interested: In the just-concluded three game stretch, SU was outscored 14-4 in the fourth quarter by Stony Brook, Notre Dame and Northwestern. Four total fourth quarter goals in three games and a -10 goal differential at the end of games will simply not cut it as this season moves along. I don’t know why ‘Cuse is struggling so mightily in the final quarter right now, but something needs to be figured out.

After a bad first half in which the Orange only mustered five goals while turning it over 11 times and finding themselves down 8-5 at the break, the team came out on fire in the second half. SU scored six goals in the first 10 minutes of the third quarter, exhibiting excellent teamwork, crisp ball movement and smart player movement.

Northwestern finally halted the run at six, but SU fired right back with a pair of nice connections from Emma Tyrrell to Jenny Markey. The second of those, scored with just 34 seconds left in the third, put the Orange up by their largest margin, 13-9.

‘Cuse perhaps got a little careless at the end of the quarter and gave up a goal with 15 seconds to Gilbert, foreshadowing what was to come in the fourth. Just as against Notre Dame, the Orange were dominated in the final frame. Gilbert and Jill Girardi took the game over, combining to score every NU goal of the fourth and overtime. SU spent the final few minutes in a futile attempt to stop a tsunami of Northwestern momentum.

That momentum was largely due to a rough second half at the draw control circle. After holding a slight edge on draws in the first half (8-7), the Orange were blown away in the second half and overtime. Northwestern won 14 of the 20 draws after the half, a stat that finally caught up with SU as the fourth quarter wore on. It became impossible to hold off the Wildcats when the team needed to rely on getting a defensive stop or a turnover to actually get the ball back to the offense.

Emily did have one final chance to win the game before overtime, and even got a good look at the goal. But her shot went straight into the goalie, and SU never saw the ball again.

Syracuse was led in this game by a statement performance from Emily Hawryschuk, who scored nine points (6G, 3A) in by far her best game since returning from injury. It’s been so great to see Emily improving game after game this season, and she finally exploded in this one with one of the best games of her career.

Emma Tyrrell had another very strong day with four points (2G, 2A) and eight draw controls, while Jenny Markey also had four (2G, 2A) in one of her best games at SU. Sam Swart had a three-point day (2G, 1A) and USC transfer Savannah Sweitzer had easily her best performance with two goals. Very notably and shockingly, Meaghan Tyrrell (1G) and Meg Carney (1A) only combined for two points between them. That’s kind of good news/bad news, since SU still showed off their offensive depth by scoring 15 goals while getting minimal points from two of their best players.

The Orange will look to bounce back this weekend when they return home for a difficult ACC tilt with the No. 7 Duke Blue Devils on Sunday, March 6 at 12 PM on ACC Network Extra.