Sunday, November 30, 2014

New York Region Ends in Tight Race to Earn a Trip to Portland

By Danielle Kennedy

(c) 2014 Danielle Kennedy
Wappingers Falls, N.Y. - When Connor Buck's cell phone buzzed late Saturday night, he knew it was the message he had been waiting all season to read.

"Last year, coach called us, but this year she just texted all of us and she said, 'Hey guys, sorry, but you might have to miss a couple of days of school.' " 

On Wednesday, the top-seven runners on the Liverpool cross country team will fly to Portland, Ore., for the second year in a row to compete at Nike Cross Nationals.

Ups and Downs

While spirits may be high right now, the Warriors of Liverpool looked disappointed and worried Saturday after their third place overall finish in the New York Region race at the Nike Cross Country Regional Championships held at Bowdoin Park in Dutchess County.

Fayetteville-Manlius and St. Anthony's of South Huntington, Long Island finished first and second in the N.Y. race which earned automatic qualifying bids for nationals.  But for the Warriors, this is the second year in a row that the team had to wait hours for the selection committee to decide if it would receive an at-large bid.  Within the eight regions across the country, there are eight available at-large bids (four men's teams/four women's teams).  

"I’m more perturbed this year," said head coach Tracey Vannatta, as she was waiting to hear the decision.  "Last year we were just happy to make it, but this year we feel like we should’ve earned that [automatic] spot and it’s much more upsetting."

Tough Conditions

With below-freezing temperatures overnight, the 5k course on the east shore of the Hudson River was a slippery mixture of ice, snow, and mud on Saturday.  Ben Petrella, a junior who finished tenth overall in a time of 16.13.0, said poor racing conditions got the best of him from the start.

"It was exhausting in the first 800 because of the snow," he said.  "I kept stumbling but not falling and it took a lot out of me."
Petrella earned Second-Team All-Region honors, followed by senior Connor Buck whose 16th place finish (16.26.0) earned him Third-Team All-Region honors for the second consecutive year.

Making his regionals debut for the Warriors was sophomore Ty Brownlow.

Brownlow finished 29th overall with a time of 16:53 and was the team's fifth scorer.  At first, he insisted that the best part of the race was the finish, but after recalling the course, that was no longer the case.

"Actually, no, not the finish," he said.  "There wasn’t really a fun part."

"For having the least experience of anybody and being a sophomore, he ran the race better than anybody and with the most maturity," Vannatta said. 

Tough Competition

According to Saucony's Top-50 list, F-M, St. Anthony's and Liverpool are ranked in the top-ten teams in the country.

Ranked first is Fayetteville-Manlius, who also won Saturday's N.Y. Region team title with 72 points.

Bryce Millar won his first regional title, finishing the 5k race in a time of 15.48.8.  Despite running through mud and nearly six inches of snow, Millar and his teammates guaranteed themselves a spot on the national stage next weekend.  The Hornets have qualified for nationals eight times since the event was created in 2004 and has five top-10 overall finishes.

Coming off of a win at the Federation Meet at Bowdoin Park last weekend, St. Anthony's second place team finish of 88 points helped earn it's first trip to nationals.  Although ranked seventh in the country, St. Anthony's hasn't faced F-M and Liverpool since the Boys Eastern States Championship race at the Manhattan Invitational in October.  There, F-M finished first with 80 points, Liverpool in second with 122 points, and St. Anthony's in third with 147 points.

Ranked as the sixth-best team in the country is Liverpool, who finished the N.Y. Region race in third place with 96 points.  Last year, the Warriors finished third with 94 points but were selected for an at-large bid.  At nationals, the Warriors finished 20 overall, but Vannatta said the bar is set much higher this time around.

"I just want to make sure we're going there to get the job done this time," she said.

One More Time 

After getting that text Saturday night, the Warriors will have one more opportunity to replace the lack of excitement in Saturday's performance.  For Connor Buck, it's his chance to end his last cross country season on a memorable note.

"It feels very good to be able to go back there again," he said.  "And to end my high school cross country career at nationals is a very good feeling."

The Warriors will race as a track club team, not affiliated with Liverpool High School due to regulations for races that are out-of-state.  The uniforms will be provided by Nike and will have "Warriors" embroidered on the front.    

Ben Petrella (Jr.), Connor Buck (Sr.), Dylan McCarthy (Sr.), Dan Muldoon (Sr.), Ty Brownlow (So.), Nick LeClair (Sr.), and Ryan Comstock (Jr.) will be the seven runners competing at Nike Cross Nationals next weekend at Glendoveer Gold Course in Portland, Ore. 

Full Results courtesy of Leone Timing

A live webcast will be available here

Syracuse Eliminated from NCAA Tournament, Loses 2-1 to Georgetown in Overtime

Story and photos by Julia Morris

Washington, D.C. - Less than four minutes into sudden death overtime of the Sweet Sixteen match-up between Syracuse and Georgetown, Hoyas senior Jared Rist headed in a game-winning goal – ending the NCAA tournament game along with the Orange’s season. 

“Just a terrible feeling right now, I couldn’t even describe to you what I thought when it went in,” Syracuse goalkeeper Alex Bono said.  “I heard the crowd behind me, I just put my head to the ground and I was just kind of brainless for a second.”

The goal came off a No. 8 Georgetown (14-4-4) corner kick in the 93rd minute of play.  It was the second corner kick goal of the game for the Hoyas, who used their set pieces to punish the No. 9 Orange (16-4-1). 

“When games are as closely fought as this one, they swing on a couple of plays and restarts can be the difference,” Syracuse Coach Ian McIntyre said.  

The other goal was an equalizer with just over ten minutes left in the game.  With Georgetown trailing 1-0 with 18 minutes left in regulation, the home crowd of 1,505 fans at Shaw Field began to chant “Let’s Go Hoyas!”  Whether the crowd pumped up the Hoyas or not, Georgetown scored just a few minutes later.  Senior Tyler Rudy sent the ball from the corner to the back goal post, where junior defender Keegan Rosenberry jumped and headed it in to tie the score 1-1.

“It’s hard giving up the goal before the end of the game,” Syracuse defender Skylar Thomas said.  “With that being said they get all the momentum and we’re kind of on the back foot after that.”

Orange Score First

While the Hoyas had the momentum at the end of the game, it was the Orange who got on the board first in the 55th minute of play.  Syracuse’s goal also came off a corner kick opportunity. 

Thomas pushed his way up field and challenged Georgetown defenders near the net.  The Hoyas kicked the ball out of play to set up an Orange corner kick.  Midfielder Julian Buescher passed the ball to forward Alex Halis, who then drilled a shot to the right corner of the goal to give the Orange a 1-0 lead.

The Orange continued to apply pressure on the Hoyas’ defense after the goal but the team couldn’t score. In the 74th minute, Buescher drilled a ball from behind the box that sailed just over the top of the post.

 “We started extremely well, not only did we score the goal we went for a second and that’s what I like about my group,” McIntyre said.  "They weren’t settling and they weren’t trying to defend a 1-0 lead.”

Scoreless First Half

The first half of the game was scoreless for both teams, but the Hoyas outshot the Orange 9-5.  Despite Georgetown having the shot advantage, the Orange prevented the Hoyas from scoring.

In the 7th minute of the game, Bono made a diving save following Georgetown forward Alex Muyl’s shot from the middle of the box.  With about fifteen minutes left in the half, the Hoyas again had the ball in front of the Orange net but Bono jumped on top of the ball before Georgetown could score.

“I thought we did an outstanding job of limiting their spaces, we worked so hard to make them as predictable as they can be,” McIntyre said.

But the hard work fell just short.  While the Orange found a way to defend Georgetown’s shots near the goal, its inability to stop set pieces proved to be too costly.  The loss marked the second time in three years that Syracuse has been eliminated from NCAA play by Georgetown.  The Orange was also knocked out in 2012 by losing to the Hoyas on penalty kicks.

“This our second Sweet Sixteen in the past three years and unfortunately we’ve run into Georgetown both times,” Bono said. “That’s the way the game is, they were better on details and unfortunately that’s the end of our season.”

Syracuse Reflects on the End of Its Season
Although Syracuse’s season is now over, the team takes away many positives from this year – the Orange received a No. 1 ranking and hosted an NCAA tournament game, both of which had never been done before.      

“We had a really good season,” Bono said.  “Obviously we expected more of ourselves but to come to Georgetown in a tough environment and play that type of game and arguably be the better team and have a chance to win like that, I’m proud of our guys.”

While McIntyre said the loss was a disappointment, he said he views the overall season as a success.

“We’ve seen some big results on the road, we’ve seen some wonderful events at our soccer stadium, we’ve seen us break the attendance record three times,” McIntyre said.  “Our guys will reflect on this 2014 season as arguably the best Syracuse team and the best year for our program and I couldn’t be prouder" 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Syracuse Drops Fifth Straight Game to End the Season, Loses 28-7 to Boston College

Story and photos by Julia Morris

Chestnut Hill, Mass. - Boston College jumped out to a 7-0 lead just 12 seconds into the game against  Syracuse and never looked back, defeating the Orange by a score of 28-7 Saturday in both teams’ regular season finale.  The Eagles, who were coming off a close loss to defending national champion Florida State, snapped a two-game losing streak in front of their home crowd of 30,267 on senior day at Alumni Stadium.  The Orange, on the other hand, ended its season with its fifth consecutive loss.

The Eagles wasted no time getting on the board first. Sophomore running back Myles Willis returned the opening kickoff 95 yards for an Eagles’ touchdown.

But both offensives went stagnant for some time after that.  The Orange (3-9) and the Eagles (7-5) had several three and outs throughout the first quarter, with the Eagles only gaining 23 offensive yards and the Orange totaling 61.

“For the most part I was pleased with how our defense played today,” Syracuse Head Coach Scott Shafer said.

While Syracuse’s offense had a slow start, the Orange did even the score with 2:48 left in the first quarter.  After a six play, 43-yard drive, quarterback AJ Long ran the ball four yards for a touchdown to tie the game at seven.  
“We wanted to establish a running game, that’s one thing we preached all week,” Long said.  “We tried to do it early and were pretty successful with it.”

However, that success was short lived – the Orange touchdown would be the team’s first and only touchdown of the game.  Overall, Syracuse totaled only 128 offensive yards.

As the quarter was coming to an end, a fight erupted between the two teams on the field.  Syracuse defensive end Ron Thompson forced a BC fumble and the Orange recovered, taking over at the Eagles’ 44-yard line.  On the first play following the fumble, Prince Tyson-Gulley ran the ball for a loss of 10 yards.  After the play ended, a scuffle broke out.  Syracuse’s entire bench made its way on to the field while BC’s began to make its way across but was stopped by the officials.  Following the play, Syracuse’s Ryan Sloan was ejected from the game. Orange guard Rob Trudo was also whistled for a penalty following the skirmish.

“I don’t know why I got flagged for it to be honest,” Trudo said.  “Nick Robinson got their defensive end pretty good and their linebacker didn’t like that too much.”

Despite the confrontation, the rest of the game continued without further issues.

Eagles take halftime lead

As the half was winding down, the Eagles scored with just 1:10 left in the second quarter to put them ahead 14-7.  Led by quarterback Tyler Murphy, BC put together a four-play, 55-yard drive in less than two minutes.  The drive ended when Murphy threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to freshman wide receiver Sherman Alston. A holding penalty against Syracuse on the previous play gave the Eagles new life after the Orange seemed to have stopped the drive.

Syracuse struggled offensively in the second quarter and failed to convert on any of its three 3rd down opportunities.  The Orange finished the half with nine total passing yards. 

“It’s difficult to win games when you’re struggling as much as we have on offense,” Shafer said.

Orange offense sputters

The offensive struggle continued into the second half.  On the Orange’s first drive of the third quarter, Long was picked off by BC’s Mike Strizak to set up the Eagles on the Syracuse 30-yard line. 

“Next to Clemson, this is probably my worst game,” Long said.  “Didn’t throw the ball well, didn’t make good reads, had a lot of mental errors.”

Following the Eagles’ interception, Murphy started off the drive with an 18-yard run.  Murphy totaled 20 rushing yards on the day giving him 1,079 for the season - setting the ACC single-season rushing yard record by a quarterback.  The Eagles scored following a 7-yard run up the middle by freshman running back Jon Hilliman, making the lead 21-7.

BC wraps it up 

In the fourth quarter, Boston College scored again while holding the Orange scoreless for the third consecutive period.  Murphy completed a 15-yard pass to  freshman Charlie Callinan to set up the Eagles on Syracuse’s 44-yard line.  On the next play, former Baldwinsville High School star Tyler Rouse pushed through several tackle attempts and ran the ball 42 yards into the end zone to give BC a 28-7 lead. 

“Disappointing when we gave up the big one there at the end when it was kind of over,” Shafer said.  “Hats off to Tyler Rouse, anytime a Central New York kid has success you’re happy for him, unfortunately it was against us today.”

Offensive difficulties continued for Syracuse up until the final minutes of the game.  Syracuse quarterback Austin Wilson replaced AJ Long with 3:29 left in the fourth quarter.  The redshirt freshman completed a pass on his first play but threw an interception on the following one.  BC senior Sean Duggan picked off Wilson and returned the ball 15 yards to the Syracuse nine-yard line.  While BC couldn’t score as time was winding down, the damage was done.   The Eagles won by a final score of 28-7.

Syracuse Reflects on the End of the Season

Coming off a season in which it won the Texas Bowl, Syracuse will not be bowl eligible this year 
having finished the season with only three wins.

“Very difficult season for us, we had a lot of uncontrollable moments, a lot of things that weren’t easy for our kids and our coaches to be honest,” Shafer said.  “You can’t control when you have a lot of injuries and things go wrong, you learn a lot about yourselves.  The thing I’m most proud of with this team is they’ve stayed a tight knit group of young men who will appreciate each other for the rest of their lives.”

Freshman quarterback AJ Long echoed Shafer’s sentiments, saying that the relationships he built with teammates this year made it a positive one for him.

“It was a poor season football-wise but the relationships I’ve built this is probably my favorite year of football I’ve played,” Long said.  “I can walk away from this saying I have 120 other brothers.”

Seniors Sean Hickey and Cameron Lynch also spoke about how much they will miss their teammates next year.

“I’ve seen so many different faces come through this program that have impacted me in a positive way,” Hickey said.

“It’s really about the guys that are with you,” Lynch said. “Tackles and sacks, those things come and go.  It’s the guys you build this bond with - that’s what it’s all about.”

With the season now over, the Orange will look ahead to next year.  Shafer said recruiting for next season will start on Monday.

“The main priority is to go out there and keep these kids,” Shafer said.  “We have a lot of good committed football players, good people too.  I’m excited about this group.”

Cuse Handles Holy Cross Despite Pitiful Performance Beyond the Arc

Story and photo by Emily Dick
“You can score 80 or 90 points without making a three,” head coach Jim Boeheim said after Syracuse defeated Holy Cross without making a single 3-pointer.

But the Orange (5-1) didn’t exactly put up 80 or 90 over the Crusaders (3-1).
In fact, Syracuse went 0-for-14 from beyond the arc and still found a way to win 72-48 against Holy Cross in front of an announced crowd of more than 19,000 in the Dome on Black Friday.

On top of that, Syracuse only scored 10 points from mid-range.

So how were the Orange men able to find a way to win by 24 with such a lousy shooting night?

A combination of first half defense, stand-out performances, and a high free throw percentage made the difference.

Starting strong, ending strong

The Orange took control midway through the first half, going on a 10-0 run to lead Holy Cross 20-9. The defense caused seven Holy Cross turnovers and produced eight fast-break points in the half.

At the break, Syracuse led by more points than Holy Cross had, 39-17, the highest first half score by the Orange all season.

But the Crusaders found new energy coming out of halftime. Holy Cross outscored the Orange 14-7 in the first five minutes of the second half. At one point, the Syracuse lead was cut to only 11.

Senior center Rakeem Christmas and freshman power forward Chris McCullough changed the pace of the second half for the Orange when McCullough nabbed a defensive rebound, one of his 13 for the night, and quickly found Christmas for a fast-break opportunity and dunk on the other end.

Syracuse went up 54-37 and never looked back.

After the game, Boeheim said fast-break opportunities helped his offense bounce back.

“When you’re not shooting well, we’re not going to run a lot plays for jump shots right now, so we’re going to try and get it down there and get some shots,"Boeheim said. "That’s what we have to do.”

Team leaders

The Christmas/McCullough duo led the team with a combined 39 points and 21 rebounds. Christmas had a career-high 25 points; his previous career-high was 21 against Kennesaw St. earlier this season. McCullough (14) put up double-digits for the sixth game in a row and had his second double-double of the season.

“Rakeem is playing great," Boeheim said. "He’s doing a great job inside. We didn’t even do a really good job of getting him the ball tonight and he had a very strong game. Chris is doing a good job.”

Freshman point guard Kaleb Joseph added 14 points and seven rebounds.

By the numbers

The Orange grabbed 50 rebounds, blocked six shots, and stole the ball from Holy Cross nine times.

Syracuse shot 46 percent from the field, but considering the team missed 14 3-point attempts and actually made 26 of its 42 2-point attempts, the field goal percentage without 3-pointers is nearly 62 percent. Holy Cross only shot 27 percent for the game.

The Orange relied on its inside scoring game with 42 points in the paint.

An 80 percent free throw rate also helped the struggling Syracuse offense, which outscored Holy Cross 20-15 from the line. That’s compared to the team’s combined 59 percent free throw percentage during the previous three games.

Can the Orange find its offense?

Joseph said the struggling offense is made worse by an inconsistent defense.

“In the first half, our defense was as good as it was in any game,"Joseph said after the game. "We stopped penetrations in the weak spots. In the second half we kind of got a little lackadaisical, so that’s why we struggled a little bit to get out running. When our defense is good, our offense will be better.”

Redshirt junior Trevor Cooney (5 points) had a tough night going 1-for-7 from the field and missing all four of his 3-point attempts.

“We have some really tough games coming up and, yeah, it’s going to be different opponents doing different things but we have to come ready to play every single night and then get ready for the ACC,” Cooney said.

Syracuse's next game is Tuesday at No. 19 Michigan as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

SU Men’s Soccer Comes Back from 1-0 Deficit to Beat Penn State, Advance to Sweet Sixteen

By Julia Morris
Photos by Jiayang Zhang

Inches ended up being the difference for the No. 9 Syracuse University men’s soccer team in its NCAA tournament game on Sunday.   

With just six minutes left in regulation, sophomore Oyvind Alseth fired the ball toward the net from the right corner of the field.  Penn State goal keeper Andrew Wolverton caught the ball and fell to the ground, causing many of the 1,213 Orange fans present at the SU Soccer stadium to go silent, as the ball looked like it had been saved.  However, seconds later the silence turned to cheers as Wolverton fell just inside of the goal line and officials whistled for a score, giving the Orange a 2-1 lead.

“I got a great ball there and I tried to cross it,” Alseth said.  “Fortunately, it wasn’t a bad hit I had so I guess the goalie wasn’t expecting it and it snuck in across the line right inside of him.”

Leading up to Alseth’s goal, Syracuse midfielder Juuso Pasanen got tangled up with Penn State forward Mark Wadid. A foul was called on Wadid – who threw away the ball in frustration and vocalized his disagreement to the referees.  Orange defender Jordan Murrell then took the free kick from midfield and sent a long ball to Alseth to set up the goal.

“I was looking at O and I saw he was in a little bit of space and I was just trying to clip it under the back,” Murrell said. “When he brought the ball down I was hoping he was going to cross the ball and he actually scored.”

Before scoring the game-winning goal, Alseth also helped set up the game-tying score for the Orange in the 73rd minute. Following a Syracuse corner kick, he sent a cross pass to forward Emil Ekblom who was sprinting down the right side of the field.  Ekblom then directed the ball to the lower left corner of the net to even the score 1-1. The goal was Ekblom’s eighth of the season.  
"I made a good run and just had to slide it in," Ekblom said.

Lions Score First

Even though the Orange maintained possession of the ball for most of the game and dominated the Nittany Lions on the offensive end, Penn State scored first in the 60th minute.

“We were on top of the game at the time and it was kind of a fluky play,” Syracuse Coach Ian McIntyre said.

Syracuse goalie Alex Bono, who has been consistent at guarding the net for the Orange all season, tried to throw the ball to defender Tyler Hilliard but it slipped out of his hands and landed a few feet outside of the box at the feet of Penn State forward Connor Maloney.  Hilliard tried to stop Maloney as he closed in on the goal but he was called for a foul inside of the box, setting up a penalty kick for the Lions. 

Maloney converted on the penalty shot, sending the ball to the lower left corner of the net as Bono dove the opposite way.  The score put the Lions ahead 1-0.

“I was going to roll it out to T and I had to hold up and at the last second and I couldn’t hold it up,” Bono said.  “It’s a terrible, terrible mistake by me and it pains me thinking after that that I could ruin all of our senior’s chances to go to the sweet sixteen.  But give credit to the guys they fought back and they really saved me on this one.”

Missed Opportunities in the First Half

The first half was scoreless for both teams, but the Orange had several opportunities to score.  Syracuse outshot Penn State 8-1 in the first half and 19-5 throughout the game.

Just seven minutes into the game, Julian Buescher sent a kick from the left side of the field toward the goal that connected with Alseth. However, Alseth’s shot knocked right off the right goal post.

Wolverton made several outstanding plays in the first half and finished the game with eight total saves.  With 21 minutes left in the first half, Orange forward Alex Halis headed the ball from inside the box toward the net.  Halis’ header looked like it was going straight for the left corner of the net but Wolverton made a diving stop to his right to keep the game scoreless.

“He probably is the man of the match,” McIntyre said. “I thought he was fantastic.  We had a couple chances first half and we had a few smiles on our bench because he was outstanding today…he was very good tipping crosses over the bar, he’s got great reach.”

Despite Wolverton's impressive efforts, his mistake when handling Alseth's game-winning goal proved to be the difference maker of the match.

Next Up

With the victory, the Orange now advances to the Sweet Sixteen to take on No. 8 Georgetown, which  knocked out the Orange in the 2012 NCAA Tournament in a game that was decided by penalty kicks. 
 The re-match will take place next Sunday,  Nov. 30 at Georgetown.

First NCAA tourney Win at home for Syracuse men's soccer

Story by Thomas Zhou
Photos by Jiayang Zhang

Syracuse, N.Y- Alex Bono did not want his mistake to ruin his team’s NCAA tourney.

So the Orange goalie said it felt like the world was lifted off his shoulders when forward Emil Ekblom scored the equalizer to tie the game at 1-1, and felt even happier when midfielder Oyvind Alseth scored the game-winner. 

The Syracuse men’s soccer team recovered from a 1-0 deficit to gain a 2-1 victory over Penn State in its first-ever home NCAA tournament game on Sunday afternoon. 

Recover from PK and win

Bono’s mistake came in the 60th minute when he tried to hold the ball and throw it to defender Tyler Hilliard. However, the ball slipped from his hand and Connor Maloney got to it. The Nittany Lions' forward then was taken down by Hilliard in the box and Penn State was awarded a penalty shot. Maloney put Nittany Lions on the board.

“It was a terrible mistake for me,” Bono said. “I am so glad that the guys could fight back and win this game... It hurts me so much that I could have ruined the seniors’ chance. I never want that to happen again because they deserve a lot better than that. It was a bad mistake for me and it’s not going to happen again. The guys got my back. They came back and we got the win. That’s what matters.”

Penn State had only three shots before the goal while Syracuse had 10. But the ten shots did not help the Orange to take the lead because Andrew Wolverton, the Nittany Lions goalie, saved all five that were on target. 

Bono spent 14 painful minutes watching Syracuse’s attack failing to change the score. Wolverton saved midfielder Nick Perea’s shot in the box in the 66th minute. Three minutes later, forward Alex Halis took a shot but it was again saved by Wolverton, who had eight saves in the game. Skylar Thomas’ header in the 72nd minute, while beating Wolverton, hit the post. 

Bono finally got relief in the 73rd minute. Ekblom captured a one-on-one from Alseth’s pass and found the back of the net. The goal was the Orange leading scorer’s first in the last five games. 

“We are a confident team,” Ekblom said. “We had a great season. We trust ourselves and our abilities. We know when we go one down, we can still come back and win the game. That is what we showed today..”

After the first goal, Orange intensified its attack and ten minutes later, it was Wolverton’s mistake that sealed the win for the Orange. Alseth’s cross from the right side ended up in Wolverton’s arms, but Wolverton let the ball cross the goal line.  

“After the (first) goal and the keeper (Wolverton ) kept saving some out of nowhere, there was a time when I say ‘Jeez it was just not our day,’” Bono said. “but there was never a doubt that once we got the equalizer, we are going to punch them another one. He kind of gave us one at the end there, but we won the game. We have more goals than the other team and that’s all what matters.”

Looking forward

Hosting the first home NCAA tournament game and winning it meant a lot for SU. 

"It was a big day for our program today,”Syracuse head coach Ian McIntyresaid after the match. “A big day just having a chance to host a post-season game. We have been talking last five years about working hard to have an opportunity to show our supporters what a post-season college soccer match is about. That was it today, even with all the students home (for Thanksgiving break), a number of them stayed around and it was a fun atmosphere. ...Not just winning, but having the chance to play a home game, and now I hope we can win some games and maybe we'll get a chance to come back here later in the season."

The Orange advances to the third round and will play against Georgetown. The Hoyas are  the same team that knocked the Orange out in penalty shoot-out two years ago, in the third round of NCAA tournament. 

“We just want to keep playing 'til December comes out,” said defender Jordan Murrell, who
missed the crucial penalty kick two years ago against Georgetown. “We want to play in the snow on the field. We are just going to keep training hard and playing hard too.”

No. 4 Syracuse Falls to No. 3 UConn 1-0 in National Title Game

Story & Photos By: Robin Deehan

COLLEGE PARK, MD. - The Syracuse Orange fell to former Big East rival and defending National Champions the UConn Huskies, 1-0, in College Park, Maryland Sunday in its first ever National Championship appearance.

“Congratulations to Connecticut for winning the national championship today, it was a well fought game and I extend the deepest gratitude to Syracuse University and my athletes for taking us somewhere we’ve never been before,” head coach Ange Bradley said.

Coming off a thrilling 3-2 sudden victory stroke-off against No. 1 North Carolina on Friday the No. 4 Orange, in front of a crowd of 1,590 fans, did not find the back of the cage once on Sunday.

“UConn plays a very slow game,” Bradley said. “We were opening them up in the second half, it just took us a little bit too long to do it and it was an effective style of play and they won.”

The first half was largely played in the midfield with both teams shotless through the first fifteen minutes of play.

But No. 3 UConn only needed one.

In the 25th minute the Huskies were awarded a penalty corner on a body foul outside the circle.

On the corner play, the Huskies sent a ball down to Mckenzie Townsend who deflected the ball up and over SU goalkeeper Jess Jecko to give UConn its first shot and only goal of the game.

“This has been one of our best corners all year, we discovered through film that there was a tell,” UConn head coach Nancy Stevens said. “The hours of game film paid off and that showed us that was the corner we needed to call at that time, and that was how we won the national championship.”

Syracuse’s best chances to even the score came in the last ten minutes of the game, but the Orange was never able to convert.
First, freshman Laura Hurff shot the ball just wide of an open cage after beating UConn keeper Nina Klein on a breakaway.

A few minutes later, Emma Russell took a shot and missed the far post by just inches with four minutes left to play.

In an act of desperation, the Orange pulled keeper Jess Jecko to add an extra field player and drew a penalty corner with :21 seconds left.

“It’s not ideal,"Stevens said. "I mean you’re 21 seconds from the national championship and you’re giving up a terrific scoring opportunity but I had so much faith in our defense.”

Before the corner took place, Bradley reminded Russell that Syracuse still had a video review to use, just in case.

SU lined up and took the corner, a fake pass left to Jessica Ross, who shot the ball into a scrum in front of the cage.

The referee blew the whistle and awarded the Huskies the ball back saying the ball had hit an SU player.

Bradley screamed for Russell to ask for a video review, but a distracted Russell did not, and time expired giving the Huskies their second National Title in two years.

“I was just focused on the ball,” Russell said.

The teams had two penalty corners apiece and the Orange outshot the Huskies 7-4.

The Huskies four shots were the lowest number of shots ever taken to win a National Championship game.

It was a disappointing end to a historic season for Syracuse which finished at 18-6.

The Orange was led by three seniors, Jordan Page, Lauren Brooks and Kati Nearhouse,. They won't back but most of the team will, including Russell, Alyssa Manley and ten freshmen.

“We have a lot of returners, we’re losing three great seniors but we’ll be back to it in January working hard for next year,” Russell said.