Syracuse Takes Down Connecticut in Season Opener
By Jaron May
CitrusTV Women’s Lacrosse Beat Reporter
After its first losing season in the Gary Gait era, Syracuse had a bitter taste in its mouth. The Orange were determined to learn from their mistakes and start the season on a high note. It did just that, coming out strong in their season opener as Syracuse (1-0, 0-0 Atlantic Coast) took down Connecticut (0-1, 0-0 AAC) 18-6 in the Carrier Dome Friday afternoon.
It was all orange in the Loud House as Syracuse led in almost every statistical category. The rout began early, with SU scoring eight goals in the first eight minutes. Junior Emily Hawryschuk led the way on attack, scoring four out of the eight and assisting on another.
A key to Syracuse’s quick start was their ability to move the ball with ease against the UCONN defense. The Huskie’s defenders were on their heels for the majority of the time, unable to keep up with the fast paced SU offense.
Head coach Gary Gait was very pleased with his team’s ability to implement the game plan in the opening minutes.
“We’re really focused on playing unselfish this year and moving the ball. Making it easy to score and hard to defend when we move the ball to the open players,” Gait said. “It happened early, eight goals in eight minutes.”
The Huskies broke their silence 11 minutes into the game when Sydney Watson finished her free position shot. Electing not to pass it off and use her lead, Watson stared down Syracuse goalie Asa Goldstock and put the ball over her right shoulder.
Goldstock, who faltered towards the end of last season, looks to have improved over the offseason. She clocked 48 minutes in today’s matchup, only allowing four goals. The sophomore only made three saves, but the stat line doesn’t do her performance justice. Goldstock was extremely vocal in net and made some circus saves, requiring her to reach all corners of the net.
Another big reason why Goldstock only had to make three saves was the Syracuse defense. Junior Kerry Defliese anchors the Orange D, but a new face was introduced to the SU fans today— Sarah Cooper. Cooper snatched four ground balls and caused two turnovers in her first game in orange.
Cooper explained how the game plan was the key to the defense’s success, more than a individual’s performance. “The defense we play is super high pressure,” she said. “So just like getting out on their hands, forcing them to make a bad pass and that was really was working for us.”
The Orange were able to score four more times before the halftime. Sam Swart and Meaghan Tyrrell scored two goals each to close out the first. Swart would end the game with three goals, and Tyrrell tallied two goals and three assists.
The second half was a different story. UCONN began to figure out SU’s defense and scored five goals by the second. The scoring was well-distributed with the five goals coming from four different players. Two of them came from free position shots, which was due to Syracuse’s fouls. The Orange were called for 20 fouls on the day, compared to UCONN’s nine.
Gait wasn’t worried about the foul discrepancy, attributing it to their aggressive gameplay.
“We were playing aggressive defense, putting the pressure on, getting out on the ball and you’re going to get some fouls when you do that,” Gait said. “We were scoring, so there wasn’t many chances for [UCONN] fouls the way we were moving the ball.”
For the Orange, the second half had a special moment… actually three. Redshirt junior Morgan Alexander has been with the team three years, but hasn’t been able to play a game due to injury. She finally got her first opportunity today and made the most of it. In the second half, Alexander scored three times, each time causing louder cheers from her teammates and fans.
Gait was pleased with his team’s performance and is glad to start the year off with a win. There were still things he believes the team needs to work on and will do so in practice. The most glaring area of improvement is the Syracuse turnovers. The Orange committed 17 turnovers in the game.
“We had some turnovers, we will have to clean that up a bit,” Gait explained.” I think 17 is a lot, and we want to get those numbers down. So we will work on cleaning that up moving forward.”
Overall, it was an impressive showing for Syracuse, as they dominated from endline to endline. With the win, the Orange improve to 21-0 all-time against UCONN and 1-0 in their 2019 campaign.
Next up, SU hosts Binghamton on Tuesday at 6 p.m.
firstname.lastname@example.org | @jaron_may