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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

2019 Angels spring training preview: catchers

first_img Angels’ Shohei Ohtani spending downtime working in outfield Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error MOVE THEY COULD MAKEWith the Philadelphia Phillies landing Realmuto, perhaps they would be willing to part with Andrew Knapp. Knapp is a 27-year-old switch hitter with a career .330 on-base percentage in 140 big league games. He’s got a .349 on-base percentage in the minors. Knapp also has options. Although Knapp doesn’t quite fit the Angels’ desire to have defensive-minded catchers, a switch-hitting catcher who gets on base and has options would be a nice depth piece. Having Knapp, Smith, Briceño and Garneau would give the Angels plenty of competition for the job backing up Lucroy, and coverage if he gets hurt.Related Articles As the Angels head toward the first workout of spring training on Wednesday, we are providing breakdowns of how they stand with their roster by position groups. Players acquired this winter include the method of their acquisition in parentheses. Today is the final installment, looking at the catchers. Previously, the rotation, bullpen, infield and outfield.2018 RECAPMartín Maldonado returned as the Angels’ primary catcher after winning a Gold Glove in his first major league season as a starter. Maldonado’s offense deteriorated in 2017, likely because of the wear of catching the most games in the majors, and in 2018 the Angels hoped to lessen his workload and maintain his offense. It didn’t really work out. Maldonado caught 79 of 103 games before he was traded, hitting .223 with a .616 OPS. After he was dealt to the Houston Astros, the Angels split the job between rookies Francisco Arcia and José Briceño. Although they combined for some nice moments, they didn’t produce much offensively either. Overall, the Angels ranked 24th in the majors in OPS from behind the plate. Defense, however, is what the Angels value most in their catchers, and in that regard, they did well.HOW IT LOOKS RIGHT NOWGeneral Manager Billy Eppler said from the start of the winter that they were looking for a catcher. They made an early inquiry into the Miami Marlins’ J.T. Realmuto, but the cost was too high for the Angels and he was traded to Philadelphia on Thursday. They also engaged with the top two free agent catchers, Yasmani Grandal and Wilson Ramos, but both eventually signed elsewhere. The Angels instead grabbed Jonathan Lucroy (free agent) on a one-year deal. Lucroy, 32, is a few years removed from being one of the game’s best catchers. Last season with the Oakland A’s, he hit .241 with a .617 OPS. Lucroy said he discovered some swing issues over the winter, and he has expressed confidence that he can correct them. He still helped nurture a young Oakland pitching staff into the playoffs in 2018. The Angels also picked up Kevan Smith (waivers) from the Chicago White Sox, and he and Briceño will battle for the backup job. Smith, who is out of options, appealed to the Angels because of his .348 on-base percentage last year. Arcia was designated for assignment and signed with the Chicago Cubs.THE NEXT LAYERThis could be an issue for the Angels. They don’t have a catcher among their top 30 prospects, according to MLB Pipeline. The best is Jack Kruger, who had a .770 OPS at Class-A and Double-A last year. The Angels will also have Dustin Garneau (minor league free agent) in big league camp. Garneau has played 88 games in the big leagues, with the Colorado Rockies, A’s and White Sox. Jose Suarez’s rocky start sinks Angels in loss to Astros center_img Angels’ poor pitching spoils an Albert Pujols milestone Angels offense breaks out to split doubleheader with Astros Angels’ Mike Trout working on his defense, thanks to Twitter last_img read more