Syracuse blows out Cincinnati behind balanced scoring, clamp-down defense
It took Cincinnati 29 minutes and 47 seconds to find the back of the net against Syracuse on Sunday.
In their last meeting, on April 22 of last season, the Bearcats whipped the ball into the back of the net in less than a minute.
This time, Cincinnati (6-7, 0-5 Big East) was overmatched against a deep No. 5 Syracuse (9-3, 5-0) team. The fast-paced offense and agile defense was too much for the small Bearcats to handle. Tying its season-high for goals in the 21-6 victory, Syracuse dominated the game from beginning to end with help from the freshman class.
“It’s nice to get those players that have been working hard all yearlong to get the opportunity to get out there and play,” head coach Gary Gait said.
Eight different Orange players scored against Louisville on Friday. Against Cincinnati on Sunday, nine found the back of the net before halftime.
Syracuse took out most of the starters for the beginning of the second half and the Bearcats tried to piece together a run. Cincinnati’s Megan Bell scored two back-to-back goals in 66 seconds, cutting the deficit to 11. Cincinnati junior Jennifer Walsh came up big with three saves early in the period to preserve the chance of a comeback.
But turnovers and careless passes killed the Bearcats. They had 23 turnovers at the end of regulation, 12 caused by the Syracuse defense.
Senior defender Becca Block only caused one turnover, though she leads the team with 22 this season. This time, Block didn’t lead the team in caused turnovers, freshman Maddy Huegel did.
“I credit the starters for being focused and getting the job done so those opportunities were there for those players,” said Gait.
Huegel notched two caused turnovers and was one of SU’s 11 players to force a turnover.
The Orange’s stifling defense didn’t allow Cincinnati to get off a shot until nearly 11 minutes into the game. Goaltender Kelsey Richardson almost recorded Syracuse’s largest half-time shutout lead of the season until Cincinnati scored its first goal with 13 seconds remaining in the half.
“I really wanted the shutout,” said Richardson. “We came really close. It hit my stick and it just went in.”
Richardson ended the game with two saves and a near-perfect half, but credited the defense for almost 30 minutes of shut-out lacrosse, and the pace of the offense for putting the game away. The Syracuse offense clobbered the Bearcats, outshooting them 43-10.
“It was a solid team effort from top to bottom,” said Gait. “They stayed focused, were mentally prepared and played well.”
Senior attack Alyssa Murray said she was impressed watching from the sidelines, especially considering where the game fell in the schedule.
“I think we are very focused and we’ve really gotten into a groove,” Murray said. “This is when you really want to start peaking as a team and we are hitting that at the right time.”
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