Syracuse Takes Opener of Weekend Doubleheader vs. Mercyhurst
Syracuse picked up a key CHA victory over Mercyhurst on Friday. CitrusTV’s Brandon Ross tells you how the Orange managed to win despite losing on the stat sheet.
Ahead of Syracuse’s Friday-night matchup with Mercyhurst, the Lakers had dominated the Orange for the past decade, winning 37 of 42 matchups. But SU swung the series momentum back in its direction, taking down the Lakers 4-1 at home.
Although Mercyhurst dominated the stat sheet, the Lakers couldn’t capitalize on their opportunities. Mercyhurst won 65 percent of the faceoffs and outshot the Orange by 10, but came away with just one goal.
“I think we did a pretty good job,” Syracuse head coach Paul Flanagan said, “when we lost the draw and they got the puck in any zone we got it back or recovered. But, we need to do a better job.”
SU took advantage of the Lakers’ mistakes early on. Just 10 minutes into the game Savannah Rennie found the back of the net to take a 1-0 lead. From there scoring continued to pile on. Goals by Alysha Burriss, Brooke Avery, and Stephanie Grossi gave the Orange its highest single-game goal total since January 6.
“It’s very important for our team to score the first goal,” Avery said. “We just play a lot better when we’re up and I feel like we’re more composed after getting ahead.”
Grossi’s goal moves her within just two points of Syracuse’s all-time career points record.
Another big key to Friday night’s victory was defense. In the first two-game series against Mercyhurst, Syracuse senior goalie Abbey Miller surrendered six goals. But tonight, the Lakers saw a different Miller, who allowed just one goal while racking up 26 saves.
After being benched for a few periods against Robert Morris and Cornell, Miller has been playing consistently well.
“We wanted to try something because were struggling to get Ws,” Flanagan said, “but ever since then we’ve been doing pretty well. I attribute a lot to her being steady and showing her experience.”
Miller added that being benched, while disappointing, was a much-needed wake up call to get her back on track.
“I didn’t play the best against Robert Morris,” Miller said. “I think it was good for me to sit back and realize that I’m not playing as well as I could be.”
The Orange won’t get much rest before its next game, as it completes the weekend doubleheader with the Lakers tomorrow afternoon.
After today’s win, Syracuse is now only two points out of first place in College Hockey America, where Mercyhurst and Robert Morris are currently tied atop the conference. But if Syracuse sweeps the Lakers tomorrow and the Colonials fall to Penn State, the Orange could find itself in a three-way tie for first.
Climbing the conference rankings could be important Syracuse, who looks to better position itself for the CHA tournament that is less than a month and a half away.