No. 4 Syracuse’s defense exposed in near-upset loss to Virginia
Courtesy of Syracuse Athletics
It took 57 seconds for Virginia to penetrate Syracuse’s defense and find the back of the net. Sophomore midfielder Maggie Jackson cut in front of the cage and landed the ball in the top left corner. Only 27 seconds later, Jackson shot at the net again, this time hitting the upper right corner.
Nineteen seconds later, UVA’s Kelly Reese followed Jackson’s two goals with one of her own. Winning the draw control, Reese ran the ball down to the arc. A foul on SU’s Lila Nazarian awarded Reese a free-position shot which she capitalized on, sinking the ball into the left side of the net.
Seventeen seconds later, Reese passed the ball to teammate Sammy Mueller. She caught it and started falling forward. Her stick wound around her body and bounced the ball into the cage.
Two minutes into the game, the Orange already trailed 4-0.
The Cavaliers (1-4, 0-1 Atlantic Coast) dominated No. 4 Syracuse (7-0, 2-0) in the first half on Sunday evening at the Carrier Dome. UVA capitalized on early runs and holes in the SU defense to sink the Orange into their largest deficit this season, 11-2, with less than 10 minutes left in the first half. SU still managed to claw back to victory, winning 16-15.
“They were picking us apart on the inside,” SU head coach Gary Gait said. “Moving the ball around the outside, driving. They looked sharp.”
The openness of SU’s defense gave UVA 11 goals off 19 shots in the first half. The Cavaliers took advantage of the lack of interior defense and executed many goals off cuts to the middle. One such goal came in the second half. Jackson possessed the ball on the right side of the field. Seeing nothing between her and the goal, she ran to capitalize on the open field and sent the ball to the top shelf, sailing over Goldstock’s stick in the process.
“We’ve been practicing those plays,” Jackson said. “Our defense really made it hard for us this past week to get those shots in.”
Virginia kept Jackson and Mueller in the middle of its offensive efforts. The two combined for six goals, five in the first half, and were crucial to picking apart the Orange defense.
In UVA’s last goal of the first half, junior Kasey Behr carried the ball from behind the cage, evaded multiple SU defenders before halting 10 yards from the goal. She fired the ball past Goldstock’s left side as the shot clock expired. Goldstock stood in goal, drank water and watched the goal play out on the video board above her cage. She threw her bottle to the ground and walked to the bench.
Goldstock had six saves. Five came in the second half, four in the final 2:25. She had one save in the first half, saving 10 percent of the shots she faced in that frame. After letting in seven goals, she was pulled for a minute and a half, in favor of sophomore Bri Stahrr. Stahrr let in two goals before Goldstock came back to the net.
“She’s a freshman and this is her fourth game in eight days,” Gait said. “It’s tough but we believe in her.”
Next weekend Syracuse faces the No. 1 team in the country, Maryland. To beat the Terps, SU’s defense needs to be a dominating force, rather than its multi-dimensional offense, something it hasn’t been all season.
“Moving forward as they prepare for Maryland and Florida, they’re going to have to tighten up their defense a bit,” UVA head coach Julie Myers said. “That middle was awfully open this afternoon.”
Published on March 5, 2017 at 9:52 pm
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