Duke Outpaces Syracuse in Third ACC Loss
By Nicole Weaving
Women’s Lacrosse Beat Reporter
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Syracuse sophomore Nicole Levy had back-to-back four goal games against Notre Dame and Northwestern. So Princeton decided to limit her productivity on Thursday by having one of their defenders solely focus on preventing her from getting the ball. Levy ended the day with zero goals and saw limited playing time as she wasn’t being used effectively.
Duke decided to instill a similar tactic on Saturday – and it worked. Levy finished with zero goals once again. Without one of their best attackers putting up points, No. 12 Syracuse (7-5, 0-3 Atlantic Coast) fell to No. 20 Duke (7-4, 2-2 Atlantic Coast) 17-10 in the Carrier Dome.
Callie Humphrey was tasked with face-guarding the Tewaaraton Award nominee. She would stare at Levy, audibly yelling to her defense if it looked like Levy was going to get the ball. Unlike Thursday against Princeton, Syracuse head coach Gary Gait decided to try a different game plan.
“When you play six on six, it gives you a lot more space to play and have opportunities to get to the net,” Gait said.
Levy would essentially remove herself from the play and stand in a corner of the attacking area. This would also drag Humphrey out wide and prevent her from being able to slide and help. Every once in a while, Levy would get the ball off a missed shot or a good pick. But she couldn’t get anything going.
“Unfortunately, she gets the ball, they double her, so she ends up just having to move it,” Gait said. “It’s tough to utilize a player when they are going to do that. You got to use them to draw the double, spin it and find the open player, and unfortunately we didn’t do that when [Nicole] did get the ball.”
Levy was clearly frustrated that she was being face-guarded and unable to help her attack. With 2:05 left in the first half, Levy got the ball off a pass. Humphrey then checked the ball out of her stick, forcing both to chase after the ground ball. When it looked like Humphrey was going to get there first, Levy aggressively shoved her from behind.
She was not the only Orange player who was frustrated by Duke’s aggressive play. Ella Simkins was pushed to the ground during a midfield transition and verbally called to referee that it should have been a yellow card.
“I think you have to continue to play the game,” attacker Emily Hawryschuk said. “If you don’t get a call or you get knocked down, then nothing is going to happen. It’s not like you can change it. You just have to continue to play.”
This is Syracuse’s third loss where it has only scored ten goals. The Orange shot 10-32, below average for a team that came into the game ranked second in the nation in shooting percentage at 51 percent.
“That comes from not taking our time and forcing some shots, getting shots and not putting them away, and playing tight,” Gait said. “We got behind, we got down and we started trying to get it back quickly and we didn’t make the plays and make the shots.”
Duke went on a 3-0 scoring run in the middle of both halves, compared to Syracuse who had back-to-back goals only once in the game.
The Orange will finally have multiple days of rest and practice before they travel down to Maryland to take on No. 7 Loyola on Thursday, April 5.
@nicki_weaves | firstname.lastname@example.org