Lacrosse: Northwestern falls to Syracuse in tough top-5 matchup


Source: Hannah Wagner/The Daily Orange

Mallory Weisse attempts to save a shot from an opposing Syracuse player. The freshman goalie made 7 saves in Sunday’s loss.

Claire Hansen, Reporter


In a high-energy game of controversial tactics and highlight-worthy goals, the Orange edged the Wildcats in Syracuse, New York, on Sunday.

No. 2 Syracuse (5-0) went on a late-game run to beat No. 5 Northwestern (1-2) 16-12, handing NU its second-consecutive loss against a top-10 team.

Despite several lead changes, NU’s demise came in its sloppy end-game play and lack of possession.

“We just need to figure out how to step up and make plays when we need them,” coach Kelly Amonte Hiller said. “This is hopefully going to be a good learning experience. We’ve had a tough schedule this portion of the season, and that’s not really going to stop. In games like this, you learn what it’s going to take.”

The deciding factor of possession was draw controls, helping the Orange to a 3-0 lead just three minutes into the first half. Over the course of the period, Syracuse nabbed seven of 11 draw controls.

The fight on the circle came to a head at halftime when NU asked the officials to examine Syracuse’s sticks — a valid request under NCAA rules. The officials determined the stick Syracuse attacker Kayla Treanor was using exclusively for draw controls was strung illegally.

Another Syracuse stick was also determined to be illegal, and the Orange were forced to start the second half two players down.

“The way it was strung on the back of the stick created a lip or a cupping, which was an advantage for (Treanor),” Amonte Hiller said. “That’s a clear attempt to circumvent the rules.”

Despite Syracuse’s advantage on the circle, the Cats battled back from their early deficit, scoring 5 unanswered goals to regain the lead. After a series of runs by both teams, the Cats trailed the Orange by 2 at the half.

Though the play on the circle was far more equal after halftime — NU grabbed six draw controls to Syracuse’s nine — momentum remained with the Orange for the majority of the period.

Syracuse went on a 5-goal run in the beginning of the second half to set the tone of the period, and 3 unanswered goals in the last five minutes secured the win.

Though the runs were interspersed with moments of brilliance from both NU’s offense and defense — particularly freshman goalie Mallory Weisse — the Cats’ breakdown in defense and sloppy possessions gave Syracuse opportunity, and eventually, the win.

“We just had some mistakes that we need to clean up,” senior midfielder Kaleigh Craig said. “We have a lot of talent on our team, but we need to focus on the technical stuff.”

Considerably influential in the Cats’ less-than-perfect possession was Syracuse’s overt aggression on defense, especially in the midfield and on the ride. However, junior attacker Christina Esposito said that is not an excuse for missed passes and ground balls.

“It definitely affected us a little bit, but I think it was more on our end on execution,” Esposito said. “They were aggressive, but everyday in practice and we’ve seen that the past two games we’ve played. So I don’t think it was them being aggressive but a matter of us playing calm and executing a certain way.”

Syracuse’s foul-heavy defense did prove to be fruitful to the Cats in some respects, as NU earned eight free position shots, three of which they capitalized on.

Shooting, too, became a deciding factor in the game. Syracuse narrowly edged NU in shots 28 to 27. However, only 16 of NU’s shots were on goal. NU missed two particularly wide-open shots early in the game, both shots flying feet above the crossbar.

Yet when the shots were there, they were artful — bounce shots, off-handed goals and quick sticks were all seen in Sunday’s game.

Junior midfielder Sheila Nesselbush notched an impressive 4 goals against the Orange defense while Esposito tallied a hat trick.

Weisse contributed a handful of crucial saves, including on point-blank range shots late in the second half. The freshman recorded seven saves against the notoriously powerful Syracuse offense.

NU takes on No. 17 Louisville next in Kentucky on Thursday.

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Twitter: @clairechansen