Women's Lacrosse: No. 5 Orange survive upset bid in final minutes
With 10 minutes remaining in the second period Sunday, head coach Laura Brand-Sias was forced to call a timeout.
She watched as the Rutgers women’s lacrosse team allowed two straight goals to surrender its second-half lead against No. 5 Syracuse.
With the game tied, 8-8, it was a crucial finish for the Scarlet Knights, who had yet to win their first conference game after suffering an 8-7 loss Friday to Connecticut.
Midfielder Katie Webster capitalized on a free position attempt following the timeout to put Syracuse back in front.
Heavy defensive pressure by the Orange (7-3, 3-0) left Rutgers (8-4, 0-3) with little chance to draw even. Syracuse was able to maintain possession with caused turnovers and put the game away with another goal.
The 10-8 defeat marked the Knights’ third straight Big East loss and second straight at home.
But Brand-Sias said there was fight in the team until the very end.
“There was never a moment where they had anything in their minds that the game wasn’t in our hands and we didn’t have the ability to win,” she said. “It kind of seems to be our M.O. that when we play someone highly ranked, we really get up for the game and compete for the full 60 minutes.”
With five goals in the first 13 minutes of the second half, it looked as if the Knights were ready to take control of the game.
Senior attack Annie McGinley gave the Knights an 8-6 advantage after junior attack Megan Clements and midfielder Amanda Trendell scored in a span of less than one minute to give Rutgers its first lead of the game.
But the offense was held scoreless for the final 17 minutes of regulation.
The action went back and forth early in the second period, as both teams fired on offense.
A Syracuse free position attempt left senior goalkeeper Lily Kalata far behind her own net — which allowed attack Kayla Treanor to score and bring the Orange within one goal.
Trendell had an opportunity to tie the game on a free position shot before halftime, but Syracuse goalkeeper Kelsey Richardson slowed the shot down enough for it to lie still on the goal line.
Trendell began its offensive surge less than two minutes into the game — before the Orange strung together three consecutive goals to take a 3-1 lead.
Rutgers was overmatched in draw controls, winning only 3 out of 20.
“Knowing that we weren’t getting the draw, we had to be a little bit more impatient on the attack and give up some opportunities that we would normally have,” Brand-Sias said.
The Knights’ inability to gain possession off the draw was the difference late, as it allowed Syracuse to score four straight goals and secure the ball once it acquired the lead.
An unforced Knights turnover ended an attempt to even the game with less than one minute left.
Freshman attack Halley Barnes — who scored in two goals in the effort and three on the weekend — received a free position attempt with three seconds remaining, but could not put a shot on net.
Rutgers tied the game on two occasions in the second period. The first goal was from Barnes to tie it at 6, and McGinley followed with a goal midway through the second period to draw even at seven apiece.
But the Knights were unable to garner enough offense to support a solid defensive effort.
“Personally, I think that it was the defense who stepped up,” McGinley said. “The offense didn’t really change how we played the whole game.”
The Knights failed to convert on several scoring chances, including free position shots that did not make it on net.
Despite 29 shots attempts against UConn (9-1, 2-1) — more than double the Huskies’ 13 — Rutgers only found the back of the net seven times.
“Our shooting was horrendous,” said Brand-Sias. “The offense wasn’t doing what they needed to do to get the ball in the net. … You’re never going to win a game with 25 percent shooting.”
Brand-Sias noted that the defense still gave the Knights an opportunity to get the victory.
Kalata made only three saves — none in the second period — as the Huskies struggled to get the ball on goal. UConn only managed four shots in the second half.
The majority of UConn’s goals came early in the first period. The Huskies strung together four unanswered goals to take a 5-1 lead midway through the opening half.
“We thought to ourselves, ‘we can’t let any more in,’” said junior defender Hollie DiMuro. “Once we came together, I think we did a great job of keeping the ball out of the net.”
Goals by Barnes and freshman attack Kim Kolodny brought the lead to within two.
In the final five minutes of the first period, junior midfielder and Rutgers’ leading scorer, junior midfielder Katrina Martinelli, scored twice to make it a 6-5 game at halftime.
Both goals came during heavy contact by UConn defenders as Martinelli struggled to drive to the net.
“This is one of the tough ones, because we could’ve won. We should’ve won,” DiMuro said.