Syracuse field hockey blows chances in overtime loss to Connecticut in NCAA tournament quarterfinals
Sam Ogozalek | Staff Writer
Lies Lagerweij spun past one Connecticut defender, then dipped around another. The crowd rose to its feet as Lagerweij entered the arc and ripped a reverse shot. Connecticut goalkeeper Nina Klein denied the shot with her body. The save was one of three she made while Syracuse played with an extra player for the first seven and a half minutes of overtime.
The Orange outshot Connecticut 6-2 in overtime. But the Huskies were the ones celebrating when the ball crossed the goal line for the final time on Sunday.
Despite playing on its home field, third-seeded Syracuse (15-4, 4-2 Atlantic Coast) played from behind all game before eventually falling to sixth-seeded Connecticut (22-1, 7-0), 3-2, in double overtime in the NCAA tournament quarterfinals. Syracuse didn’t hold a lead at any point and tallied just three shots in regulation. A late surge from Syracuse’s offense, including a game-tying goal, was not enough to complete the comeback on Sunday at J.S. Coyne Stadium. With the loss, SU won’t defend its national title.
“(UConn) has a stingy defense,” Syracuse head coach Ange Bradley said. “It took us a while to be able to figure out how to manipulate it and beat it.”
Twenty-two minutes into the game, UConn forward Charlotte Veitner tipped a blast from Anna Middendorf, to put the Huskies on the board first. Syracuse answered quickly. Less than two minutes after Veitner’s goal, Liz Sack tipped a ball off of a UConn defender inside the arc, earning a penalty corner.
Nijsje Venrooy’s insert went directly to Lagerweij, who ripped a low, screaming shot out in front of the net. Serra Degnan extended her stick to redirect the ball into the back of the net. As the team gathered around Degnan in celebration, Lagerweij gave a fist pump and jogged back to her position in the back line.
Following the equalizer, UConn’s defense tightened up. Under constant pressure, passes along the back line began to go wild for Syracuse. Venrooy attempted to work the ball out along the sideline before being held up by several UConn defenders. After losing possession, Venrooy failed to protect her feet, which the ball hit, leaving the opportunity for the Connecticut forward to earn a corner.
Sam Ogozalek | Staff Writer
“I think what makes us dangerous in the postseason is we pride ourselves on our defense.” Middendorf said. “The way in which not just the back three but our goalkeeper and midfield, forwards pressuring, we were not going to let much into our circle.”
UConn entered halftime with a 2-1 lead. At the break, Syracuse trailed Connecticut seven to one in total shots. Syracuse earned one penalty corner in the first frame while Connecticut produced five penalty-corner opportunities.
After yellow cards were issued to Connecticut’s Barbara Hoogen and Veitner, Syracuse played two minutes with a two-player advantage. The Orange struggled to maintain possession despite the extra players. On a delay of game restart deep in Connecticut territory, Emma Tufts struggled to penetrate the UConn back line as she gave the ball up to a UConn defender.
As UConn advanced the ball down field, Syracuse midfielder Laura Hurff dashed down the middle of the field in hot pursuit of the ball. Instead of stealing it, Hurff shouldered the UConn player and received a 10-minute yellow card for the play.
The mistakes mounted as the half carried on. Lagerweij failed to connect with Venrooy as the ball bounced out of bounds. Jamie Martin missed a pass on the following break-out attempt. Hurff battled to get the ball but lost control. Martin once again found herself with the ball but the play again ended with Connecticut possession. Syracuse called timeout.
Syracuse re-entered play with a newfound energy. Sack darted into the offensive zone, attacking the corner with speed. She played the ball on to Tufts, who hit the ball off a UConn defender earning a corner. Roos Weers received the insert from Venrooy, took one step in and rocketed a shot to the bottom left of the net to tie the game with four minutes left in regulation.
“I was really proud of our kids that they didn’t quit,” Bradley said. “They found a way to get themselves back in the game to win it.”
In the huddle before overtime, Lagerweij rallied her teammates. She pointed to her head as she looked at each of her teammates.
“One main point that we said a lot today and especially toward the end of the game and overtime is this is our field and we never ever give up,” Lagerweij said.
But the Orange never found the back of the net on its six overtime shots.
UConn needed only two.
Published on November 14, 2016 at 2:42 am