With names on the field like Katie Hoeg, Jamie Ortega, the Tyrrell, s and Emma Ward, it's easy to get your full attention to the crimes of these two teams. That being said, today was a battle between two defenses. In the end, Syracuse just couldn't hold on.
How it happened
Syracuse first scored a goal from Emily Ehle, who was assisted by Emma Ward. Then UNC did a three-goal run, but it didn't feel like a "run" as the first and third goals were ten minutes apart. Then, with 49 seconds into the first half, Syracuse broke the drought, again after a game that featured both Emma Ward and Emily Ehle. But in classic UNC fashion, the Tar Heels ended the first half with a goal of their own, leaving only 11 seconds on the clock over Melissa Sconone. The first half ended 4-2, UNC.
The second half started just like the first half – with a UNC goal. Syracuse responded 8 minutes later after what was perhaps the worst goal of the day from Emma Tyrrell. Cuse later scored again after a vacant position from Emma Ward, but UNC finished the game with a 3-goal run and that was all she wrote.
Credit Where credit is due
As a reminder, while Syracuse lost that game to UNC, the last time these two teams competed Syracuse fell against UNC 17-6. Today's defeat by just 5 goals was a big adjustment from the mid-season showdown. How could Cuse keep the score so tight without Emily Hawryschuk, Meg Carney, and Vanessa Constantino? Simple answer: the Syracuse Defense.
At the start, Asa Goldstock had one of her best performances of the entire season. They had 11 saves and only 9 goals against the best team in the country (until anyone can refute that statement). And those were no easy parades either. These were difficult, doorstop parades that truthfully kept Syracuse in play.
But these parades began with the defense Asa had before her. UNC generally makes an average of 10 sales per game. Today they had 12 that Syracuse caused (however ask anyone who has watched the game and they will tell you it feels like more). The ground balls were also evenly matched (14 from both teams). UNC has not scored 9 goals in any game in their entire season. Syracuse is not ahead of the game this time around, but they will learn from it and improve when they reach the big state. You will likely see this team again in the NCAA tournament.
Adjustments before the NCAA
The biggest problem today was the offense – there was no getting around it. They looked scared and shy, and maybe rightly so. The UNC defense is absolutely stingy and Taylor Moreno at the helm is not what an offensive player would want to face.
That being said, UNC stands in the way of this mission if this Syracuse team is to try to win the national championship. The way to UNC is through them, and the way through them is to score goals. Keeping UNC at 9 goals is enough to win against them. but only 4 points are not. Cuse only had 9 shots on goal on UNC's 20. The biggest change Syracuse needs to make is on the offensive side of the ball.
Next up is the selection show, which determines the layout for the NCAA tournament and Syracuse's path through the tournament. The selection show will take place on May 9th and the first round will start on May 14th. Syracuse on SI will continue to provide information on who will be Syracuse's first opponent.