April 19, 2013
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – No. 5/5 Syracuse used the draw to gain a decided advantage in time of possession and held off a late Notre Dame comeback attempt to knock off the No. 7/7 University of Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team, 11-8, in BIG EAST action Friday night at the Carrier Dome.
“After tonight’s game there were some major positives from the 60 minutes that we will continue to build off in this final stretch of the regular season and into the postseason,” said head coach Christine Halfpenny. “Our defense took a massive step forward as they showed how dynamic and versatile they can be by combining a number of different looks that were disruptive to Syracuse’s offense.
“I’m also happy with tonight’s shooting percentage that shows us that when we can gain possession and have opportunities on goal we can finish. Moving forward we have to continue to work on limiting our unforced errors and gaining possession of the draw. The reality at this level is that draw controls and time of possession are the difference makers between wins and losses.”
The Orange out-drew the Irish 14-7 on the night, including 8-3 in the first half as the home team built a 7-3 lead heading into the locker room. Notre Dame rallied in the second half, tightening up in the draw circle as well as on defense to out-score Syracuse, 5-4, but couldn’t overcome a five-goal deficit just four minutes into the second half to put the pressure back on the Orange.
Turning in another strong night between the pipes as she faced intense pressure from the Orange offense was senior goalie Ellie Hilling, who made 11 saves and had a .500 save percentage. The Rochester, N.Y., also added four ground balls.
In all, Syracuse took 34 shots to just 15 for the Irish. Notre Dame made the most of its limited opportunities however, tallying eight scores on just 11 shots on goal.
“Ellie’s ability to stop 50% of one the best shooting offenses in the country’s shots gave us confidence and gave us the opportunity to stay in the game when we weren’t getting very many possessions.”
Notre Dame was hindered by 22 turnovers, including eight unforced turnovers that stalled several Irish possessions.
The Irish came out of the halftime break and watched as Syracuse stretched its lead to 9-4. However, Notre Dame didn’t give up, as it scored three consecutive goals in just 3:57 to move the score to 9-7. Brie Custis and Kaitlyn Brosco scored a pair of unassisted goals before Brosco made a nice dish to McKenzie Brown to trim the margin to just two.
Brosco (1G, 1A) and Brown (2G) each tallied two points to provide a spark off the bench for the Irish in the second half. The duo tied senior Jenny Granger (2G) for team lead in points.
Syracuse wouldn’t let the lead slip away though as it scored a pair of goals in 40 seconds to give the Orange a four goal lead with 12:25 remaining in regulation. The Irish rounded out the scoring with 3:27 as freshman Austin Pruitt sprinted up three-fourths of the field and found Lauren Sullivan for a goal that gave the game its final score. The assist was Pruitt’s first of her career.
The Orange was led by a pair of five-point performances from standouts Alyssa Murray (4G, 1A) and Kayla Treanor (2G, 3A).
The Irish (11-2, 5-2 BIG EAST) return to action at 12 p.m. Sunday when they meet UConn (12-1, 4-1 BIG EAST) in Storrs, Conn.
On the strength of the draw, the Orange jumped all over the Irish early in the first half. Two of the first four Syracuse goals came immediately following a successful draw control as the home team jumped out to a 4-0 lead just 11:02 into the game.
Granger stopped the bleeding just minutes later, finding the back of the net at 17:56 off a free position attempt. A little more than a minute later the Irish were on the march again as Granger fired a shot that hit the post. Fortunately for the Irish the ball ricocheted back to Granger, who scooped up the ground ball and powered the ball past Kelsey Richardson to move the scoreboard to 4-2.
Two more goals stretched Syracuse’s lead to 6-2, before Caitlin Gargan took matters into her own hands and found the back of the net to trim the margin back to three. The Orange answered a minute later as Katie Webster scored to carry Syracuse into halftime with a 7-3 lead.