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Syracuse’s goal to be a ‘power-four team’ falls short in NCAA quarterfinals to Northwestern

first_img Published on May 18, 2019 at 6:44 pm Contact KJ: kjedelma@syr.edu | @KJEdelman EVANSTON, IL. —  In the midst of trying to calm down the tears of his players after losing to then-No. 1 Boston College in February, Syracuse head coach Gary Gait paused during his press conference. His team had squandered a five-goal lead. As the No. 11 team in the nation, he wanted to outline his one and only intention for 2019.“We want to be a power-four team that competes for championships,” he declared.There wasn’t much validity to that statement then — only the team’s history as a perennial power. Coming off its worst record in program history, the Orange had to slowly prove themselves. A come-from-behind defeat of then-No. 4 Northwestern, a blow out of then-No. 7 Virginia, taking Maryland, then BC again to the final seconds.After rising to the No. 5 seed in the NCAA tournament, Syracuse (16-5, 5-2 Atlantic Coast) was one win away from making Gait’s wish come to fruition. Northwestern (16-4, 5-1 Big Ten) was the only team standing in the way from Syracuse reaching the final four team for the first time since 2016. With one minute left in the first half, the Orange were on the wrong side of a blowout, down 10-3. A two-hour lightning delay couldn’t save them. Their star attacks, Emily Hawryschuk and Megan Carney, and their nine goals couldn’t either, as the Orange lost 18-14. Syracuse’s season ended because it couldn’t recover from the mess it created in the first half, and Gait’s aspiration fell one game short from coming true.“We just spotted them,” Gait said postgame. “A 10-3 lead is tough to come back from and we didn’t stop the run when we needed to.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textCorey Henry | Photo EditorSyracuse’s first statement win of the season came in late February against the same team that ended its season. Coming off the Boston College collapse, SU stormed the aspects of lacrosse that limited it today: face-guards, a plethora of scorers and a draw control group that ranks top-10 in the nation. Down two in the final minutes in the Carrier Dome, SU fought back to tie the score in the closing seconds. And in overtime, Hawryschuk brought the Orange the alluded ranked win it needed early in the season. But that was February.On May 18, Syracuse had proven it was a top-five — not top-four — team that could take any powerhouse to the final possession. In the first half, the Orange looked far from it.After Hawryschuk had broken out of a face-guard from Northwestern defender Nell Copeland off a spin dodge, Saturday’s matchup seemed to be another “game of runs,” the term Gait alludes to as the nature of lacrosse. With Wildcat attack Selena Lasota, one of five Tewaaraton Award finalists, being shut out, Syracuse was bound to break through. But the Wildcats’ secondary scorers showed up when SU’s couldn’t. Senior Claire Quinn found space to shoot, catching goalkeeper Asa Goldstock off guard. Later, a rip off a double team from NU freshman Izzy Scane befuddled Goldstock as she sat in front of her net.“We wanted to move the ball and attack them aggressively,” Northwestern head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller said. “We were ready…our offense is effective no matter what it’s in front.”Syracuse’s response was turnovers, not scores. Goldstock had no answer and Hawryschuk wasn’t able to score in bunches early like she’s done throughout the year. The one-goal deficit escalated to seven. The Orange were stifled, their hopes of advancing to the final four darkened like the cloudy skies of Evanston.Lasota and Hawryschuk, the top players on their respective teams, resurrected to start the first three minutes of the second half. But lightning struck above Evanston, and any chance of recovery from Syracuse’s first half strife would have to wait two hours.  Corey Henry | Photo EditorCrammed in a small locker room, Gait tried to rally his team as the rain pelted Martin Stadium. Syracuse had just won in a rainstorm a week prior, and the Orange had 27 minutes to erase the 11-6 deficit.The rain steadied, but by 4:45 p.m. Central Standard Time, Hawryschuk lined up for a draw. An SU goal on the first possession was overshadowed by three straight from Northwestern as fog caused by the adjacent Lake Michigan crept in. But in an instant, down 14-8, all of the “wacky” weather disappeared. And SU’s high-octane attack reappeared.“You start on the wrong foot,” freshman Megan Carney said. “And you want to turn that around.”Junior Ella Simkins and freshman Sarah Cooper collided toward the middle, hindering cutters from getting their stick up. And when someone got through, their swipes — which were mostly called fouls earlier — became forced turnovers. Carney scored off a cut, then Hawryschuk bulldozed in. Freshman Meaghan Tyrrell faked a handoff and sidearmed a shot to the opposite side of the net. The scoring run that never came in the first half finally arrived and Northwestern’s lead was just 15-13. “You can see in the second half, we had that intensity,” Hawryschuk said. “We needed more, and we didn’t have that then.”But all of its momentum was stopped on the draw as Hawryschuk, who had 10 draw controls on the day along with five goals, couldn’t maintain her success. NU junior Megan Kinna popped out of nowhere to score, and on the ensuing draw, attack Lindsey McKone scored eight seconds into the shot clock. “The team who wins deserves a final four,” Lasota said. “Every team here has a similar chance, it’s a matter who shows up.”As the clock ticked with Syracuse down four scores with four minutes left, any hope of a comeback slowly became an afterthought. Off a high shot from Lasota with 1:45 left, the clock didn’t stop. Syracuse players, parents, and even head coach Gary Gait couldn’t maintain their cool. While the referees huddled, complaints from a dwindling group of 20 SU parents and fans continued. One Northwestern fan, decking a purple flag, motioned toward them and turned to his friend.“It doesn’t even matter anymore,” the fan said under his breath.Minutes after the game, SU players approached their families one-by-one. Senior Julie Cross, then Hawryschuk and sophomore Sam Swart, with tears in their eyes, tried to embrace the only people left in orange at Martin Field. Gait watched from a distance as his team looked for the comfort he couldn’t give.When asked about falling one game short from being that “power-four team,” Gait put his hands on his Persian blue pants, then tugged at his collar. His eyes widened, but no words came out at first. Eventually, he had to say something. “We were close.”Corey Henry | Photo Editor Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

Wilder, Fury Put Unbeaten Records on the Line

first_imgMany of the world’s best boxers reside in the lower weight divisions, but there’s something extra-special when the big men limber up, in this case, Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury, who do battle in Los Angeles this weekend.Anyone who weighs over 100kg can do lasting damage with a single punch, although this is especially true of Wilder, who is statistically the heaviest puncher in heavyweight boxing history. With 39 KOs in 40 fights, the American knows how to short circuit his opponents.He may be crude and unorthodox, but he has a savage instinct for hitting hard and will have every ambition of separating Fury from his senses. Fury, in turn, is all legs and arms, a human threshing machine who is both big and seriously difficult to land against. With the longest jab in the business, he can frustrate opponents and mess with their defences.The build-up has been typically loud and brash, which is to be expected from a pair of fighters who have never tasted defeat in a professional ring.“It’s important to establish dominance,” said Wilder. “I say I’m the best, the baddestman on the planet. When it comes to Tyson Fury, I’m all about devastating knock-outs, it’s what I do.”Fury, no shrinking violet, hit back: “I am no challenger for no man. I’m the linear heavyweight champion of the world, the best of the best.”Wilder probably doesn’t have the skill-set to outbox Fury, but his power makes him dangerous for every second of every round. The WBC champion is shortest in price to win the fight during rounds 5-8.Fury will likely aim to dominate over 12 rounds, but the Wilder equaliser might see him pulling out big shots of his own down the stretch.There’s something special about the Heavyweight title. Always has been. Whether you think of the days of Ali, Foreman, and Frazier, or the days of Tyson, Holyfield, and Lewis, in boxing, the Heavyweight champion has long been the sign of the true pinnacle of the sport – the belt that truly names the baddest man on the planet.Right now, that man is Tyson Fury, who only recently returned from a three-year absence.One night, November 28, 2015. That’s the night Fury shocked the boxing world by upsetting Wladimir Klitschko. For a decade, Klitschko (along with his brother Vitali) had been the king of the Heavyweight division. Since the 2003 retirement of champion Lennox Lewis, the Klitschkos had dominated the division – not always in the most dramatic and exciting fashion, but they had dominated nonetheless. Then in 2015, Fury flipped the narrative, knocking Wladimir off his pedestal and claiming boxing’s top prize. Was it a good fight? No, not at all. But he won. He was the man.And then, poof, he was gone. In the aftermath of the historic win, the always mercurial Fury started to really fall apart. He became even more erratic, he failed drug tests, he openly battled with depression, he put on a tremendous amount of weight, and his new titles were, one by one, taken from him. And he stopped boxing. Until now.That’s why today’s showdown between Fury and Wilder is one of the year’s most must-watch fights for all combat sports fans. Because sure, the WBA and WBO and IBO and IBF and any other combination of letters can strip Fury of those titles, but they can’t change history. And history says Fury is the man who beat the man. Today, he returns to the big leagues. Standing across from him will be the American power punching machine Deontay Wilder – the most potentially exciting American Heavyweight since the Tyson days. And, just for an added bonus, the WBC champion too.The winner here walks away from the WBC champion, the lineal champion, and the true man at Heavyweight. And he sets himself up for an even bigger fight with that other Heavyweight champion of the world, Anthony Joshua. For fans of Heavyweight boxing – for fans of combat sports period – this is the kind of fight you’ve been waiting for.Meanwhile, former heavyweight champions Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield believe Tyson Fury can dethrone Deontay Wilder if Saturday’s WBC championship fight goes the distance.While several former heavyweights believe Wilder possesses the punching power to force an early victory on Saturday, Lewis and Holyfield believe the odds will tilt in Fury’s favour the longer the fight goes on.“I think with Deontay’s power, he might be able to end it early, but if Tyson can frustrate him and it goes the distance, then it could go his way,” Holyfield said Tuesday.“Tyson’s always been the bigger fighter. In fighting Deontay it’s the same case. If things get difficult, he’s (Fury’s) got more experience and a lot of tricks.”Lewis, the former undisputed heavyweight king, echoed Holyfield’s verdict.“If it goes the distance then it belongs to Tyson Fury,” Lewis said. “If it’s a short fight it will belong to Deontay Wilder.”Heavyweight legend Mike Tyson meanwhile believes Fury’s mental durability will carry him to the title.Tyson said that Fury’s ability to rebuild his career after overcoming personal turmoil sets him apart from Wilder.“Although Wilder’s punch is strong, nothing can compare to the mental strength Fury has shown both in and out of the ring,” Tyson said.“It’ll be a close call, but I think Fury’s got a true fighting chance.” But former heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe is backing Wilder’s punching power to overwhelm Fury early on.“If Wilder comes out and means business then he should beat Fury with ease,” said Bowe, the undisputed heavyweight champion in 1992. “My prediction is Wilder by knockout!”…Heavyweight Thriller to be Aired Live on DStvThe almighty heavyweight boxing clash between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury billed to hold on Saturday in Los Angeles, will be broadcast live on SuperSport 1 (Channel 221). The fight is exclusive to Premium customers at no extra charge.The televised undercard, which starts at 3a.m. Nigerian time includes several top fighters.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegramlast_img read more