Published on May 18, 2019 at 6:44 pm Contact KJ: firstname.lastname@example.org | @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+
He hopes there will be fewer stoppages for referees to consult monitors than seen during other events such as the Champions League last season or the recent Women’s World Cup.“I think fans want to see those clear and obvious mistakes changed and put right,” Masters said in China, where he has been attending the Premier League’s pre-season Asia Trophy.“But they don’t want to see the Premier League or English football interrupted, or the pace of the game changed.“I think the only difference you might see is the referees using the referee review area a bit more sparingly and relying more on the VAR for the more subjective decisions.“But we are putting something new into the Premier League and if it needs to be refined or improved or tweaked we will look at it when the moment arises.“We’ve got to let it happen first and keep an open mind about whether it is really working.”Share on: WhatsApp FILE PHOTO: VARShanghai, China | AFP | Premier League interim chief executive Richard Masters admits VAR is certain to cause “controversy” when the technology makes its English top-flight debut in the forthcoming season.The video referee system will be used for the first time in the Premier League after its introduction was delayed for a year to allow time to develop the system.VAR has been used in England in the FA Cup and League Cup, as well as in numerous other foreign leagues and tournaments including the Champions League.It hasn’t been a huge success, with complaints from managers and fans about the slowness of the system and mistakes made by the officials.“I have no doubt it will create some controversy because it is about the big decisions but we are prepared for that,” Masters said.“We have spent two years working up to this point, and we were committed to doing it in our heads for two years.“We have been training and testing and making sure when it happens, particularly on Saturday afternoons when we have got multiple matches going on, that we have a number of VARs trained. We feel that is done and we are ready to launch it.”Masters is adamant the Premier League have looked at ways to ensure VAR operates effectively, taking lessons from the initial use of the system elsewhere.
by Roxanne Jones(CNN) — I fell in love on a Monday night. Now, many may say a teenage girl can’t know about such things. But that night as I watched Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett roll downfield 99 yards for a touchdown, I fell head-over-heals in love with the NFL.It was January 3, 1983 — Monday Night Football, Dallas vs. Minnesota. I’d never seen anything so inspiring. Dorsett was so free, so graceful and so powerful to me. He was focused and determined. Watching him break free of his competitors, those who wanted to bring him down and stop him from reaching his goal, I was in awe. And I knew then that his run capsulized all that I wanted to accomplish in my life.That football game is one of my most cherished childhood memories. I have been a passionate NFL fan since that moment — though I switched my loyalties to the Philadelphia Eagles, my hometown team. My family has never understood my love affair with the league. They have balked as play dates, family events, even church services have been rearranged or skipped to fit my football calendar. I ended up spending much of my career in sports journalism, a dream job if ever there was one.But after 30 years, my love and respect for the game is fading. And I’m seriously considering giving up football completely. I don’t want to, but I am left with little choice. I’ve come to this pass because of a recent airing of “League of Denial, The NFL’s Concussion Crisis,” the PBS documentary that details the hidden story of the NFL and brain injuries.Based on a book by journalists Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru, the program examines the NFL’s attempt to cover up medical science that has linked Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, called CTE, to concussions in NFL players. Players with CTE have battled depression, memory loss, and in some cases dementia.The NFL consistently has denied any connection. But many of the men who play the game feel differently.“I think I’m just paranoid. But … from their standpoint, I think they are looking forward to covering their own (butt) more than anything, more than player safety,” Baltimore Ravens’ Super Bowl champion Terrell Suggs told the Baltimore Sun.Hall of Famer Troy Aikman, whose concussion in 1994 was featured in the documentary, told PBS:“I do not have a son; if I had a son, I wouldn’t necessarily discourage him from playing football, but I don’t know that I would encourage him to play, either … I don’t know what the data show, but I haven’t sensed there’s been a reduction in head injuries. With that in mind, that’s concerning. As long as we’re having contact and as long as there are collisions, there’s going to be head injuries.”The NFL, which did not participate in the documentary, agreed in late August to a $765 million settlement in a concussion lawsuit with more than 4,500 players and their families.The proposed settlement allows the NFL to avoid a public trial to fight accusations that the league concealed what it knew about the dangers of head injuries. Under the terms of the pending settlement, which is still awaiting approval by a judge, the NFL likely won’t have to disclose internal files about what it knew, or when it knew of any links between concussions and permanent brain injury.When I watch the games today, the awe is gone. Instead, I thank God that my son never wanted to play football, that it was basketball that stole his heart. And I find it ironic and a bit disingenuous that the NFL, in an effort to make the game more attractive to its 44% female audience, adorns the players and the field in Breast Cancer pink. Imagine where breast cancer research would be today if the science around the cause of the disease was rejected, or covered up. Imagine if women were told to ignore the warning signs of this killer disease, or if we were denied access to lifesaving treatment.Today, instead of telling kids how football helped to inspire me to go after what I want in life, I advise them and their parents to avoid the game at all costs. It’s not safe at any level. Play other sports.I’m not alone. The Hall of Fame Giants linebacker Harry Carson, who was a leading voice in the documentary, doesn’t believe the game is safe for children today.“I pray parents understand all they’re getting into when they allow their kids to play football,” he said. “My oldest son luckily gravitated to basketball, and as a doctor he understands what concussions are about. My younger son didn’t play, and to this day I’m grateful,” said Carson, who begs his daughter not to let his grandson play.“Because concussions happen all the time on every level of football, the long-term damage is terrible, and we’re seeing evidence of it all the time.”I agree. I’ve worked with former NFLers who suffer blackouts in midsentence, after being diagnosed with numerous concussions over their careers. And many of us knew Junior Seau and others football players who have taken their own lives. Too many of us in the sports industry stood by and watched yesterday’s heroes implode, or fall into depression in retirement.It’s easy to sit back and pontificate about why so many players are violent, both on and off the field, or how they ended up with ruined lives. We often blamed the players themselves. “They were irresponsible men, or had bad agents, girlfriends, wives who took advantage of them,” we explained. We blamed everything but the game itself for so many ruined lives and serious psychological problems.Now I see that I have been an enabler, blindly protecting the game — the game that afforded me a lucrative career at ESPN. How could I criticize any NFL commissioner for doing the same? We have all made a very comfortable living off the game and the backs of men like Harry Carson, Tony Dorsett and Junior Seau.I want to save my relationship with the league but it needs to own up about CTE.Stop endlessly denying the findings of medical science that say playing football can cause permanent brain damage. End the lies. Just admit we have a problem. That is the first step. Stop the slick marketing campaigns to keep telling our children all they need to learn is a “safe way to hit in football,” while denying each hit comes with a dire consequence.This relationship is toxic. If my beloved NFL continues to lie and deny while men and boys are suffering and dying, then it’s time for this fan to say good-bye.Editor’s note: Roxanne Jones is a founding editor of ESPN The Magazine and a former vice president at ESPN. She is a national lecturer on sports, entertainment and women’s topics and a recipient of the 2010 Woman of the Year award from Women in Sports and Events. She is the co-author of “Say It Loud: An Illustrated History of the Black Athlete,” (Random House) and CEO of Push Media Strategies.