The game itself featured eight ties and a battle that would ultimately go down to the wire. With Northwestern rattling off its eleventh consecutive win against Syracuse, the Orange can only hope it gets another shot at the seven-time national champions in the postseason. There were some good things and not-so-good things I saw in last weekend's game:
Good Sign: Six different Syracuse players scored on offense on Saturday and senior Michelle Tumolo was not one of them. Tumolo was held pointless and faceguarded the entire game by Northwestern's Kerri Harrington. Harrington is regarded as one of the nation's best in terms of locking down the opposing team's leading scorer. Despite not winning, this is a sigh of relief for the Orange that other players, aside from Tumolo and Murray, are stepping up to the plate. Two of those players, in particular, are sophomore Devon Collins and freshman Kayla Treanor. Collins has proven to be a spark off the bench for the Orange, netting eight goals on the season as Treanor, the highly touted recruit out of Niskayuna, N.Y., burst onto to the scene against Jacksonville. The freshman had six points (five goals, one assist) in her debut and has continued her tear ever since. Treanor's confidence in the Northwestern game was apparent and her command of the offense on the attack side with Murray and Tumolo has been a great bonus for Syracuse.
Draw Control: This statistic seems pointless if the Orange lost to Northwestern, right? Wrong. Syracuse dominated Northwestern on the draw circle 18-9 and proved it can hang with the best of them. Circle specialist Kailah Kempney and senior defender Becca Block combined for 9 of the 18 draws and for the most part, kept Northwestern's Alyssa Leonard in check. In the national championship game last year, Leonard notched six draw controls of her own to Kempney's zero. The Wildcats frustration and inability to gain possession caused Northwestern head coach Kelly Amonte-Hiller to take Leonard off and substitute in freshman Lauren Murray at certain points of the game. Amonte-Hiller, however, elected to go back to Leonard in crunch time and it proved beneficial. The junior had a key draw control and goal to seal it in the end for the Wildcats.
Second Half Blues: Despite playing a near perfect half, the Orange seemed to let it slip from its fingertips when the yellow cards and turnovers started to mount. Watching it on the tube, it was clear that Syracuse was frustrated. Northwestern sensed that and capitalized on it, slowly but surely gaining momentum in its favor. Orange head coach Gary Gait stated that when it came down to it, his team didn't make enough plays:
"When you play a seven-time national championship caliber team, they believe they are going to win in the end. They made plays when they needed to," he said.
The Wildcats did not panic when they were down; it just played traditional Wildcats lacrosse and stuck to the game plan: Make solid decisions.
Syracuse will face BIG EAST Conference foe Villanova on the road next Friday, April 5, at 4 p.m.
SU WLAX: No. 8 Syracuse at No. 3 Northwestern
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