April 23, 2008

Syracuse Ends W. Lax’s Win Streak

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Yesterday, the No. 18 Cornell women’s lacrosse team, which was rolling on a five-game winning streak, faced off against No. 5 Syracuse, which was on a six-game winning streak of its own. Something had to give.
The high-powered Orange attack led its team to a 19-7 victory at Schoellkopf Field to jump to 14-2 on the season. With the loss, the Red falls to 9-5 for the year.
The Red got on the board first as sophomore midfielder Tissy O’Connor took a pass from senior midfielder Noelle Dowd and then beat Orange goalie Liz Hogan to put the Red up 1-0. However, the Orange then responded with four consecutive goals, jumping out to a 4-1 lead just 10 minutes into the first period. However, two goals by senior attacker Courtney Farrell and another by freshman attacker Libby Johnson in a five-minute span knotted the game up at four goals apiece midway through the frame.
With the game tied, the Syracuse attack went full tilt, notching six goals in a row as part of a 13-2 Orange run. All night, when Syracuse scored, it scored in bunches, as its attack put together separate strings of four, six, three and four goals at different times during the game.
Johnson explained that the Red’s inability to win draw controls led to the Syracuse scoring streaks.
“They would just win the draws four times in a row, or six times in a row, that kind of thing,” Johnson said. “Then they were just capitalizing on those opportunities and the mistakes that we were making and we weren’t stepping up.”[img_assist|nid=30134|title=Swan song|desc=Cornell’s all-time leading scorer, senior Courtney Farrell (11), had two goals and an assist in her last game at Schoellkopf Field.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Johnson attributed the Syracuse dominant offensive performance to the Red’s struggle to win draw controls and to maintain possession on offense.
“The biggest thing was that we were losing the draws so we didn’t give the attack chances to score as much as we wanted to,” Johnson said. “I think we made the defensemen play probably the most defense they have had to play all year, so I think that was our biggest problem.”
As it has been all season, the Orange attack was led by its three primary scorers, who now each have over 50 goals on the year. Midfielder Christina Dove led the way for the Orange with five goals and two assists, while attack Halley Quillinan added four goals of her own. Syracuse’s Tewaarton Trophy candidate, junior Katie Rowan, pitched in with three goals and three assists on the night.
“We definitely knew they had a lot of offensive weapons going into the game, so we didn’t want to focus too much on one particular player,” Johnson explained. “We tried to deny Katie Rowan more than anyone and I think we did a pretty good job of that. But both Halley Quillinan and Christina Dove definitely hurt us a little bit. Our game-plan was to just try and play the defense that we were used but I think that they were just too strong.
On the offensive end, the Red was unable to create as much momentum as in its five previous games. Johnson believes that the Red attack was trying to do too much on the offensive end, straying away from crucial fundamentals.
“We knew that they were a high scoring team coming in and we thought we were going to be able to do a good job against their defense,” Johnson said. “But, I think that we made too many little mistakes that they capitalized on today. I think we were almost thinking too much where I think we could have been more successful if we just kept it simple and took it hard to the net, but we were getting a little too complicated.”
Johnson does think that some positives came out of the loss, as this experience provided the Red with some lessons to implement for the rest of its season.
“I think we definitely learned that we need to practice harder for big game,” Johnson said. “I think we started to get a little complacent with our winning streak which is something that we need to remember going into our next two games. It kind of gave us a look at what a top team in the country looks like and going into the postseason I think it is important for us to know what that looks like.”