Heartbreak for Syracuse in the ACC Semifinal
By Jaron May
CitrusTV Women’s Lacrosse Beat Reporter
CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — No. 4 Syracuse (15-4, 5-2 ACC) felt the agonizing pain of sports heartbreak when No. 1 Boston College (19-0, 7-0 ACC) completed a late-game comeback to steal a 14-13 victory from the Orange in the ACC Semifinals.
SU had given BC its biggest scare of the season earlier this year when the Orange held a two-goal lead heading into halftime. But, the Eagles put up a strong second half performance, coming away with a two-goal win. Friday’s matchup was very similar.
Neither team let the pouring rain and frigid temps affect them from the start. In fact, both teams came out of the gates on fire. Boston College opened the box score just a minute and a half into the contest behind Dempsey Arsenault’s 53rd goal of the season. The senior was the star of the show for BC as she finished with five points on three goals and two assists.
Syracuse answered back less than a minute later with a goal from Mary Rahal, and so began the first half dance. Both teams went back and forth, trading blows, and not allowing the other to build more than a two-goal lead.
Emily Hawryschuk did what she does best and put the team on her back throughout the first half and entire game. The junior took the majority of the draws, putting up the best game of her career in the circle with a career-high 12 draw controls.
Hawryschuk also found the back of the net four times, including one of the best goals you’ll see in women’s lacrosse. With just a few seconds left on the clock before the halftime buzzer, Asa Goldstock hurled the ball downfield hoping to find an open SU player. A mosh pit of players swarmed the ball, including Hawryschuk, who was able to push it ahead but couldn’t scoop it up. Two BC defenders continued chasing her down, even pushing her to the ground near the eight-meter fan. But, she managed to lay out and swing her stick at the ball, sending it through BC Goalie Abbey Ngai’s legs and landing in the back of the net.
“Emily was the best player on the field today. I don’t think there was any question about that,” said Head Coach Gary Gait after the game. “She did it all today, so I’m very proud of her.”
Hawryschuk’s miraculous goal tied up the score 7-7 heading into the halftime break.
After the 10 minute break, Syracuse came out hungry. The Orange became more aggressive on defense, began controlling the tempo of the game, and built a comfortable lead. SU scored four unanswered in the middle of the second to take a three-goal lead.
Smiles started to grow on the Orange fans’s faces as the energy at Alumni Stadium ramped up. Syracuse had the end in sight if it could just hold on to the three-goal lead for eight minutes.
But BC wasn’t going down without a fight as the Eagles upped their intensity on both ends of the field. They began putting extra pressure on the Syracuse defenders when clearing the ball, causing the Orange to turn the ball over numerous times.
“They went after our clear, after our D,” said Gait. “The weather was tough. We made mistakes and we got to learn from that, get a little swagger on the D-end with controlling that ball, and we can get the ball up field.”
This aggressive ride proved to be a major turning point for the Eagles. They capitalized on the extra possessions, score three in a row to tie the game up with just under two minutes left.
BC then controlled the next draw and took a timeout. Head coach Acacia Walker-Weinstein drew up a play in the huddle, which led to Taylor Walker sneaking one past Goldstock to reclaim the lead with just 17 seconds remaining.
“We made some mistakes, some mental errors down the end,” said Gait. “Those are some amazing players out there on that BC team and they weren’t giving up. They made plays at the end that they had to and we didn’t.”
The loss hurt Syracuse fans’ hearts, but Gait wanted to stay positive after the loss.
“I think it actually helps [the players],” Gait said. “To know you are toe-to-toe with the two best teams in the country in Maryland and Boston College. It’s going to come down to the last play, we don’t turn the ball over like we did today, and who knows. Maybe we run away with that game.”
The Orange cannot let the loss affect them for too long as the NCAA Tournament is right around the corner. There is a good chance Syracuse will be a top-four seed in the tournament and could see Boston College again.
SU will now have some time off to rest up and prepare for its final push towards a national championship.
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