Syracuse Advances to NCAA Quarterfinals in 2-1 Overtime Thriller vs. Liberty
By Max Gifford | @GiffMD
With its season on the line, No. 11 Syracuse field hockey was down late in the fourth quarter and scored a late game-tying goal and pushed the contest to overtime, where the Orange prevailed over No. 6 Liberty, 2-1.
In a game that featured two of the best offenses in the nation, in addition to each having the top attack in their respective conference, it would come as a shock to know the first three quarters featured no action on offense whatsoever.
Through 45 minutes of play, each team was even at four shots apiece with each team only putting half of those on goal. Many of the saves were routine for both SU’s Abby Neitch and LU’s Azul Irixity Irigoyen, with the biggest stop coming from a defensive save by Lieke Leeggangers in the 28th minute.
Whether it was nerves or a travel hangover, both teams woke up in the final frame of regulation. The Flames finally ignited (pun totally intended) the game’s offense on its second straight penalty corner out of the quick break and third of the game when the team’s leading scorer Jodie Conolly was set up for her 11th of the season off feeds from Reagan Underwood and Bethany.
That’s all the ACC’s top-scoring offense in Syracuse needed to turn in on. The ball remained in the Orange’s attacking third for a majority of the quarter with SU gaining an 8-2 shot advantage on LU. The ‘Cuse had no shortage of corner chances in the fourth as well, getting five of them.
Finally, after four didn’t result in a score, with less than three minutes left in the contest, their goalie Abby Neitch pulled out of net, and Liberty a player down after a yellow card, Syracuse broke through after a shot from Charlotte de Vries was tipped by Lieke Leeggangers for her first goal of the season for the equalizer. Put simply: Cardiac ‘Cuse was in full swing.
Onto overtime, where the Orange have been on the losing end of three extra period contests already, the SU backline never allowed the Flames past midfield once for the rest of the game. After just nearly missing a spin-o-rama shot earlier, in the 63rd minute, graduate student Charlotte de Vries, in what could’ve been potentially her last game dawning the orange and blue slotted in the game-clinching score after a shot from her fellow graduate student Pieke van de Pas on an APC opportunity.
With the win, Syracuse becomes the only team in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) to make NCAA Quarterfinals appearances in three-straight seasons and improves to 13-4 in Round of 16 matchups in program history.
The task doesn’t get any easier for the Orange though.Their next opponent has a little more familiarity with SU. The ‘Cuse take on No. 3 Duke, who edged American 2-1 earlier in the afternoon. The Blue Devils shutout Lynn Farquhar’s crew 4-0 in Durham in the regular season. First push for the Elite Eight with a trip to Chapel Hill on the line is at 1 p.m.