April 24, 2009
Washington, D.C. – For the last three seasons, the Syracuse Orange have had Notre Dame’s number, handing the Irish three consecutive losses by three goals or less heading into Friday night’s BIG EAST semifinal game.
When the two teams met in Syracuse on April 11, the Irish fell behind 11-1 in the first half before putting on a furious rally only to fall, 14-13. This time things would be different as senior Jillian Byers (Northport, N.Y.) showed why she was named one of the BIG EAST co-attack players of the year as she had four goals and three assists for seven points to lead Notre Dame to a 16-10 win over the Orange. The win was the first for the Irish in three BIG EAST Tournaments and they move on to the BIG EAST Championship game on Sunday, April 26 to face the Georgetown Hoyas. The host team advanced to the title game with a 21-12 win over Louisville.
While Notre Dame was running off 16 goals, the Irish defense, led by senior goalkeeper Erin Goodman (Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.) held Syracuse to just two goals in the second half and a total of 20 shots in the game.
Joining Byers on the scoresheet for the Irish were sophomore Kailene Abt (Huntington, N.Y.) and junior Gina Scioscia (Summit, N.J.) as each had five-point games. Abt had four goals and one assist while Scioscia had two goals and three assists.
Senior Katie Rowan led Syracuse with two goals and four assists for six points in the contest. Christian Dove, Megan Mosenson, Awehiyo Thomas and Bridget Looney all had a pair of goals for the Orange in the loss.
The win improves the 11th-ranked Irish to 13-4 overall while Syracuse goes to 12-4 on the year. The win snapped a three-game Syracuse winning streak versus Notre Dame. The last Irish win versus the Orange came in the 2006 season.
The Irish led 9-8 at halftime paced by Byers’ four goals and then opened the second half with the first five goals, opening a 14-8 advantage that they never surrendered.
“It feels incredible to beat Syracuse,” said Byers, the All-American and Tewaaraton Trophy candidate.
“They are a great team. They are very well respected with a great defense and a great offense. We’ve lost to them the last couple of years so it’s finally great to be able to play the way we can and come out on top.
Byers helped Notre Dame to a 9-8 lead at halftime as she scored all four of her goals in the opening half. Her second goal of the half with 21:49 left snapped a 4-4 tie and put the Irish ahead to stay. Her third and fourth goals of the half at 13:48 and 9:05 built the lead to 9-6 before Looney and Mosenson scored for Syracuse to cut the lead to one at the break.
“When we played then two weeks ago we had the big second half come back,” said Byers.
“We knew if we didn’t come out in the first half tonight, there was no way we would be able to stay with them. You have to play the whole 60 minutes and that’s what we did tonight.
The second half was all Notre Dame as the Irish ran off the first five goals to open a 14-8 lead. Abt and Scioscia scored twice with Stewart getting the fifth goal in the run for a six-goal cushion.
The defense limited Syracuse to one goal when the game was on the line as the Irish held the Orange to just eight shots on goal while forcing 11 turnovers. In the game, Notre Dame grabbed 21 ground balls to just 10 for Syracuse.
Goodman would make seven saves in the game, but they came at key times when it looked like Syracuse might retake the momentum.
Head coach Tracy Coyne commended her team’s defense for its big effort on the evening.
“I didn’t think about it until now but we held them to just two goals in the second half. I thought we played a great defensive game,” said Coyne.
“Kateri (Linville) did a great job preparing our defense. We drilled and drilled all week on what we wanted to do. They have a lot of weapons. We tried to limit their shots and take them out of their comfort zone. We caused a lot of turnovers and took Syracuse out of their game tonight.
Rowan halted the five-goal run with 20:35 left in the game to make it 14-9, but Blaney answered with her second goal of the night with 17:18 left to make it 15-9. From there the Irish slowed the pace of the game, running the clock down under a minute when Mosenson scored to make it 15-10. Stewart answered with her second goal of the night with just 15 seconds left for the 16-10 final score.
The win was big for the Irish as it improved their record to 5-4 versus teams ranked in the top 20 on the season. They also got the win while wearing green for just the second time in the program’s history as they wore green kilts.
“We were the underdog so we pulled out the green,” said Coyne with a laugh when asked about them.
“It was a surprise. We didn’t give them the green kilts until they were in the locker room. It’s a big deal for us to wear green. It’s only the second time that we’ve done it. We wore green against Georgetown in 2006 when we had green jerseys. We haven’t won a game like this late in the season in a couple of years and we need to start winning this type of game if we want to be respected as an elite program. I told them before the game that I thought they were on the verge of doing something special and that’s what the green represents.”
For the game, the Irish outshot the Orange by a 28-20 margin. Liz Hogan equaled Goodman with seven saves in goal for Syracuse.
CBS College Sports will televise Sunday’s BIG EAST Championship game live at 1:00 p.m. at the Multi-Sport Facility.
** Jillian Byers’ seven-point game (4g, 3a) is a Notre Dame record in the BIG EAST Tournament. It passes five-goal games by Caitlin McKinney `08 in 2007 and Blaney who had five in last year’s BIG EAST Tournament at Notre Dame Stadium.
** The Irish have met Georgetown twice in BIG EAST Tournament play. The Hoyas won 12-10 in 2007 and then 15-14 in triple overtime in 2008.
** With three assists in the game, Gina Scioscia now has 35 this season, equaling her career high set last season.
GAME SUMMARY 1 2 - F#11/#12 Notre Dame (13-4) 9 7 - 16#8/#6 Syracuse (12-4) 8 2 - 10
ScoringFirst Half:Time Team Score Goal Assist29:00 ND 1-0 Kailene Abt27:48 SU 1-1 Christina Dove Katie Rowan27:24 SU 1-2 Katie Rowan26:20 ND 2-2 Jackie Doherty Free-position shot25:40 ND 3-2 Jillian Byers Free-position shot24:09 SU 3-3 Awehiyo Thomas Megan Mosenson24:02 ND 4-3 Kaitlin Keena Gina Scioscia21:49 SU 4-4 Bridget Looney Katie Rowan (2)21:24 ND 5-4 Jillian Byers (2) Gina Scioscia (2)20:53 ND 6-4 Kailene Abt (2)20:24 SU 6-5 Christina Dove (2) Katie Rowan (3)16:48 ND 7-5 Shaylyn Blaney14:53 SU 7-6 Awehiyo Thomas (2) Katie Rowan (4)13:48 ND 8-6 Jillian Byers (3) Kailene Abt 9:05 ND 9-6 Jillian Byers (4) 7:58 SU 9-7 Bridget Looney (2) Tee Ladouceur 6:29 SU 9-8 Megan Mosenson Tee Ladouceur (2)
Second HalfTime Team Score Goal Assist29:12 ND 10-8 Kailene Abt (3) Gina Scioscia (3)26:48 ND 11-8 Gina Scioscia Jillian Byers26:36 ND 12-8 Ansley Stewart Shannon Burke24:39 ND 13-8 Kailene Abt (4) Jillian Byers (2)23:52 ND 14-8 Gina Scioscia (2)20:35 SU 14-9 Katie Rowan (2)17:18 ND 15-9 Shaylyn Blaney (2) 0:28 SU 15-10 Megan Mosenson (2) Christina Dove 0:15 ND 16-10 Ansley Stewart (2) Jillian Byers (3)
Goalkeepers:Notre Dame: Erin Goodman - 60:00 min; 10 goals against, 7 savesSyracuse: Liz Hogan - 60:00 min; 16 goals against, 7 saves
Total Shots: Notre Dame: 28; Syracuse: 20Ground Balls: Notre Dame: 21, Syracuse: 10Draw Controls: Notre Dame: 12, Syracuse: 16Caused Turnovers: Notre Dame: 13, Syracuse: 7