No. 7 Syracuse outlasts No. 5 Northwestern in most physical game of the season

first_img Comments Mary Rahal ducked in through two Northwestern defenders and turned to the goal. Before she could square up to take a shot though, she was blindsided. NU’s Carson Copeland checked her in the back and pushed her down to the ground. Slowly, the Syracuse midfielder picked herself up for a free position shot.A second later, Rahal took a step in toward the goal, free of any Wildcats around her, and scored. This time, it was her stick, which left her hands instantaneously after scoring, thrown to the ground. After more than 36 minutes of physical play, she let her aggressions out and yelled in celebration.Rahal’s goal gave Syracuse a 12-9 lead, its largest of the game, nearly seven minutes into the second half. It was just one of numerous emotional celebrations in a feisty contest that No. 7 Syracuse (4-1, 0-1 Atlantic Coast) ultimately won in overtime against No. 5 Northwestern (3-1), 15-14. In SU’s first top-10 matchup of the season as a top-10 team itself, the Orange were matched in its aggressiveness step-for-step with the Wildcats, who came into the game undefeated.“Northwestern plays so hard and aggressive,” SU head coach Gary Gait said. “We play pretty aggressively as well, so you’ve got two aggressive teams, so it’s gonna be a physical game…I thought it was a great game to watch, up and down, back and forth, and the physicality added to the excitement of the game.”The close play began from the start, as seemingly neither team allowed the other to score without getting pushed down at some point during the possession. Syracuse’s Sierra Cockerille earned the first of five yellow cards on the day just eight minutes into the game, when she took down Leighton Yenor. Yenor scored on the free position shot, tying the game at two.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textA few minutes later, it was Emily Hawryschuk who found herself on the ground. After gaining possession of the ball from Syracuse’s defensive half, Hawryschuk took the ball herself all the way to the other end and was checked, but scored in the process. Hawryschuk was face-guarded all game and was left with little more than a foot to maneuver around the field at all times.Sam Swart, on the other hand, wasn’t as pressured. She took advantage of an opening in the defense later in the first half and scored, but was swiped in the head by the stick of her defender. While the rest of her team celebrated, Swart stayed on the ground holding her head. Getting hit was a common theme on Sunday for Swart who seemed to end up on the ground every other play.“They were a very physical team, and we expected that because our coaches told us that,” Swart said. “I know I get up and I hold my arm, but at the same time, I know I can give the ball and take a little breather, but they were physical.”Even though the Wildcats made a point to be physical with the Orange, Syracuse responded. Northwestern came out in an aggressive man-to-man defense focused on stopping Hawryschuk, but it failed to phase SU. Syracuse had most of its success against the man-to-man, struggling at times when faced with a zone.From the draw control circle, it was another story. After winning the majority of draws in three of its first four games, only dropping them in its one loss to No. 1 Boston College, Syracuse came out and had difficulties against Northwestern. Despite winning for the first time this season when dropping most of its draws, SU had its worst game of the season in the area and lost 20-of-31.“They (Northwestern) work incredibly hard, and I think we saw that in the draw controls,” Gait said. “They just out-hustled us in those draw controls, and came up with more possessions than we did…but we gutted it out and we got opportunities, and we didn’t give up.”The Orange were close to giving in with 9:22 left in the second half, when Northwestern tied the game up for the first time since it was 2-2. Out of a timeout following the goal, it looked like the physicality of the game had caught up to Syracuse — the Wildcats walked back onto the field with a spring in their step, while the Orange looked lifeless.But even after falling behind by two goals two minutes later, SU had more than enough life in it. Cockerille’s second goal of the year cut it to one. Then, with 25 seconds left, Megan Carney tied the game and sent it to overtime. When Hawryschuk nailed a game-winner with just over a minute left in the first extra period, Syracuse’s energetic celebration could’ve fooled someone into believing that it came just one minute into the game.The Syracuse half of the stands exploded, while the SU bench  — after waiting for the stick check — flooded onto the field. Just behind the SU celebration, Wildcats goalie Julie Krupnick collapsed to the ground. This time, there’d be no rebound after falling down. “Our team has a lot of heart, and I think that’s what’s different this year,” Swart said. “Heart wins all games, I think that’s why (Hawryschuk) got that shot, because she just wanted it, and that’s what our team has the most.” Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Published on February 24, 2019 at 4:49 pm Contact Eric: [email protected] | @esblack34last_img read more

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