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Sunday, Oct 07, 2018 at 7:45 pm

Syracuse defeats Cal for fifth straight home win

By Sam Rothman

CitrusTV Field Hockey Reporter

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — With 32 minutes left in its matchup against Cal on Sunday, Syracuse held its first two-goal advantage since September 16. SU looked to finally be on cruise control, only to watch their lead escape in less than five minutes as the Golden Bears scored back-to-back goals to tie the game.

“We were a little too relaxed,” said Head Coach Ange Bradley. “We needed to be able to get our focus.”

To calm her team down, Bradley called a timeout immediately after the tying goal. The Orange returned to the field reenergized, scoring two unanswered goals for the 4-2 win.

“I thought it was a good call,” said senior Roos Weers. “We lost focus a little bit. I’m glad we were able to refocus and get a goal quick, but it shouldn’t have gotten to 2-2.”

After a defensive battle to start the game, Syracuse scored the opening goal of the game for just the third time this season. Weers converted on the penalty corner to give the Orange a 1-0 lead just under a minute before halftime.

Syracuse quickly grabbed a 2-0 lead out of the locker room as Chiara Gutsche scored top-shelf three minutes into the second half. That is when momentum swung to the Golden Bears.  The Orange played man-down due to a couple of cards and in just a matter of minutes, Syracuse’s lead evaporated.

In the past three games at home, Syracuse found itself down by a goal and had to bounce back. This time, the Orange fought their way back to regain the lead.

“They’re a very good team,” said Bradley. “I don’t think their record reflects the kind of team they are. So it’s huge that we came back and took control.”

On their next penalty corner opportunity, SU took advantage. Weers’ initial shot was stopped by Cal’s Natalie Dalton, but Gutsche recovered the rebound and tapped it in for the 3-2 advantage. The sophomore now leads the team with eight goals this season.

“I love scoring and hearing the sound of the ball on the board,” said Gutsche. “You need to score to win. In the end, it doesn’t matter who scores.”

The Orange grabbed another goal on the penalty corner with six minutes left in regulation. Yet again, Weers’ first shot was saved, but this time Claire Cooke converted on the rebound for the 4-2 lead. Cooke didn’t find the back of the net in the first ten games of the season. The sophomore has now scored two goals in the past two matchups.

The Golden Bears pulled Dalton for the man-advantage after Cooke scored. But, the Orange came away with the win in regulation for the first time after three straight overtime games on home turf.

“It’s good for Ange’s stress level,” said Weers.

Bradley agreed.

“My doctor thanks them,” she said laughing. “But, it’s good we were able to get it done in regulation. We have a very important weekend next weekend and those extra minutes are good for our body.”

After five straight wins at J.S. Coyne Stadium, Syracuse heads south to North Carolina for an ACC matchup with No. 21 Wake Forest.

sbrothma@syr.edu | @samrothman_