Was anybody else getting nightmarish flashbacks to the Northwestern game late in the fourth quarter on Tuesday night?
Fortunately for the No. 4 Syracuse Orange, the end result was more akin to the Stony Brook or Notre Dame games as they barely held on late amid a furious comeback and some questionable refereeing to beat the undefeated, No. 6 Loyola Greyhounds, 14-13.
'CUSE COME AWAY WITH IT pic.twitter.com/qOJ44mmJXy— Syracuse Women's Lacrosse (@CuseWLAX) March 30, 2022
Up 14-9 with 13 minutes remaining in the game and having scored five of the game’s last six goals, the Orange had all the momentum and looked like they were in a great spot. But they let the Greyhounds back in as they scored the game’s final four goals to ensure the final few minutes were as tense as could be.
After a questionable timeout-awarded call that went in SU’s favor with 1:32 to play, it looked like the Orange would be able to run it out. But a turnover on the clear gave Loyola new life, and they turned it into a goal with 24 seconds left that made it a one-goal game.
The Greyhounds won the ensuing draw and looked like they tied it up before a whistle was blown for what was eventually deemed offsetting penalties: a clear charge on Loyola and a less clear foul on Syracuse that kept possession for the visitors with 12 seconds to go. After a timeout, Loyola threw the ball away and the Orange ran out the clock on a chaotic finish inside the Dome.
Thank goodness for the play of Kimber Hower, who had easily the best game of her career in helping to preserve the victory. Hower stood tall in making a career-high 12 saves for a .480 save percentage. Not only that, but five of her 12 came in the fourth quarter alone as the Greyhounds were making their late run.
If Hower doesn’t do what she does and make almost half of her saves in the most important part of the game, then Loyola likely completes their dramatic comeback and hands ‘Cuse another crushing late loss. This was the goalie performance that this team has been waiting on all season long, and it came at a time when the rest of the team needed to be bailed out as everything else was going Loyola’s way.
Out in the field, Emma Tyrrell led the way with another sparkling performance, scoring seven points on four goals and three assists while corralling seven of the team’s 13 draw controls. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: she really is this team’s MVP since she plays a role in every phase of the game, and plays them all very well.
Elsewhere, Emily Hawryschuk recorded four points and a hat trick to move to 299 points for her career, one away from becoming the fifth player in program history with 300. Meaghan Tyrrell had a three-point day which was made up of two nice goals and one beautiful flip-pass assist, while Sam Swart and Olivia Adamson each had two goals.
Highlights from tonight's dub pic.twitter.com/9lokDzlIvq— Syracuse Women's Lacrosse (@CuseWLAX) March 30, 2022
For Syracuse, this was a game that existed in three phases: their slow start, their strong middle and their poor finish. Let’s track each phase:
- First 23 minutes: Loyola leads 5-3
- Middle 24 minutes: Syracuse goes on 11-4 run to take 14-9 lead
- Final 13 minutes: Loyola closes game on 4-0 run to make it 14-13
It was just a slog out of the gates for the Orange offense, who struggled to create good scoring chances and beat Loyola goalie Kaitlyn Larsson in the early going. About 23 minutes into the game, SU only had three goals and were down 5-3.
That’s when the Tyrrell sisters connected for a beautiful back-door pass and finish which kick-started the middle portion of the game for the Orange. Looking like they were going to go into halftime with a deficit, the ladies finally found their rhythm and scored three goals in the final 1:12 of the first half to go into the break with a 7-5 lead despite a lackluster performance overall.
After a low-scoring first half, the game turned into a goal-fest in the third quarter with nine combined goals as the teams went back and forth, with SU holding a 12-9 lead heading into the final frame.
The start of the fourth quarter continued the good times for ‘Cuse, with Olivia Adamson cashing in her two goals in the first two minutes to give the Orange their five-goal lead with 13:11 remaining in the game. And you know the rest. SU only had four offensive possessions the rest of the game; two of which ended in turnovers and two of which ended in weak, end-of-shot-clock shots.
Somehow and someway, the Orange did just enough down the stretch to hang on to their third top-10 win of the season. This was a big one as far as NCAA tournament seeding will be concerned. It was one the ladies really needed to pick up if they want to have a solid seed come May.
The Orange will be back in action this weekend when they continue their homestand by resuming ACC play in their first ever game against the Pittsburgh Panthers lacrosse program in their inaugural season. The game is this Saturday, April 2 at 12 PM on the ACC Network.