No. 9 Princeton dominates No. 13 Syracuse, 5-1, in opening round of NCAA tournament

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on November 15, 2019 at 7:17 pm Contact Andrew: arcrane@syr.edu | @CraneAndrew Commentscenter_img STORRS, Conn. — Sarah Luby bent over first and took a hand off her stick. To her right, Claire Webb clawed toward the ground and used her arm to shield tears. The final buzzer had already sounded, and the ball rolled to a stop near the middle of the field — a final clearing attempt by the Orange left unfinished. SJ Quigley and Carolin Hoffmann slowly walked to Webb and wrapped their arms around her.With three seconds left, Luby had hit her stick as a Syracuse counterattack was knocked away. The clapping and cheering on the Syracuse bench ceased, and a season-ending loss inched closer.Each small error, each misstep, again limited offensive opportunities for the Orange. Princeton found ways to exploit Syracuse’s formation, and did. Sloppy outlet passes from the Syracuse backline didn’t help. Lack of chances in the shooting circle didn’t mitigate. From Chiara Gutsche’s first hit, a press by the Tigers befuddled Syracuse and allowed them to dominate possession.Two goals before halftime and three in the third quarter sunk the Orange (12-7, 3-3 Atlantic Coast), whose lone goal from Claire Cooke came too late to trim the deficit. In No. 13 Syracuse’s 5-1 loss to No. 9 Princeton (14-4, 7-0 Ivy) in the first round of the NCAA tournament, the formation holes that defined the Orange’s six losses — and even in some of their wins — emerged again. But this time, they’ve no games left to fix them. “I mean, if we don’t get shots, that means they’re shutting us down,” Hoffmann said. “Or that we’re not creating the shots for ourselves. I honestly can’t really say anything to it right now.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textIt took 12 wins — three against top-5 opponents — for Syracuse to return to this spot. An NCAA tournament bid eluded the Orange last season, a tournament win since 2016 against Harvard. Bradley called the day she found out Syracuse missed the tournament last year “depressing” and one of her worst days of the year. But that was because of the program she had built over the last decade, the expectation that an NCAA tournament berth would be earned at the end of the season, wasn’t met.Twelve years ago to the day, Bradley won her first postseason game with Syracuse, a culmination of what Bradley had established after she resigned from Richmond in winter 2006. It built the foundation for a final four team in 2008 that transitioned from “playing to play to playing to win,” former SU player and manager Gloria Nantulya said. That year was a similar situation to Syracuse’s this year: a handful of returning veterans leading reliable young players.Early-season losses to Cornell and Virginia weren’t blemishes on a postseason resume, they were “learning experiences,” Bradley reiterated throughout the year. At one point, they’d find the right combination. At one point, it’d all come together: the crisp passes, the penalty corner conversions. Ideally, that’d be during the NCAA tournament.“We win 5-0, we find a way to win 7-0. If we lose 5-0, we find a way to close the gap,” Bradley said. “It’s a process of learning and growing.”But from the early minutes of Friday’s game, the Tigers found a way to capitalize where Syracuse didn’t. From film, Princeton head coach Carla Tagliente knew that the Orange relied on short passes instead of aerial lofts over the midfield. She knew that their penalty corners runners tended to veer to the left. So the Tigers pushed Clara Roth and Emma Street toward SU’s backline and looked for deflections on corner sets, and found success.That led to Princeton dominating possession early — the Orange went more than five minutes in the first quarter without a completed pass in the offensive end. Open looks and rebounds led to goalie Sarah Sinck diving across the cage and using her stick to knock away potential goals. The Tigers’ only goal of the quarter, Hannah Davey’s deflected penalty corner tally, was followed by another in the second on Roth’s coast-to-coast goal. That only escalated in the second half. Bradley said the Orange “dominated” the final 30 minutes, but just failed to convert in the shooting circle. During that time, though, Princeton scored three goals in the opening nine minutes to put the game out of reach. What started as Tornetta’s reverse hit off a penalty corner was deflected in by Ali McCarthy quickly became more set goals in the Syracuse circle.During that third quarter run, when the sun dipped behind a Connecticut building, Ange Bradley took off her sunglasses, thrust her hands in her pockets and watched as her season slipped away. To open the half, Quigley’s pass to Cooke on the right sideline was intercepted. Then, Cooke was stripped again. Bradley had spent the first half actively pacing the sidelines, screaming at SU defenders when the ball stayed in the defensive zone too long. But her tone changed. After the fifth goal, Bradley crouched on sidelines and stayed there as Marie Sommer subbed out for Stephanie Harris. Tess Queen began to circulate the ball to begin the next possession, but the 13th-year head coach didn’t move.“Their corners,” Bradley said. “They were 50% on them…It’s the difference.”Bradley remained tucked within the players for nearly a minute. Eventually, she rose and continued to pace the sideline, pointing out holes Syracuse needed to thread passes through and directing midfielders to drop back. She even tried bringing an extra midfielder up from the backline. But against the Tigers, as had happened against the Tar Heels, Cavaliers and Big Red — three of SU’s losses — nothing worked when Bradley needed it to most.“Sometimes teams might change things to get a little bit more momentum,” Tagliente said. “At that point in the game, the lead was too big to make a difference.” last_img

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