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April 29, 2011

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Orange on a Roll

 No. 18 Syracuse scored five straight goals to start the second period and ran away with an upset win over No. 7 Loyola. The 10-9 victory lifts the Orange to a 9-7 overall record and 6-1 Big East mark. After a rocky start to the season, Syracuse has now won four in a row and six of its past seven games.

“We were getting a few more draw controls, especially in the beginning of the second half. We play a lot of defense by offense and made a good effort on the ride, said head coach Gary Gait.

If you check out the box score, the ride was the difference. Loyola completed only 12 of 20 clears, giving Syracuse the chance to pull away from the Greyhounds.

Sophomore attacker Michele Tumolo led all scorers with 3g and 2a.

“Our biggest point was to get back, drop back and hustle,” said Tumolo (who gave her interview wearing both Mikey Powell-style eyeblack and a face mustache – she’s an interesting girl). Tumolo got burned a couple times in their last game versus Cornell when the Big Red’s midfielders got some easy transition play on clears. It was a focus in the Loyola game and it paid off.

Defensively, the Orange shut out Loyola’s attack for 25:29 beginning late in the first period and stretching into the second half. Sophomore defender Becca Block drew the 1v1 assignment on Greyhounds’ top attacker Grace Gavin, holding her to 2g and 1a. Aside from the Black-Gavin match-up, the Orange had a team-oriented defense.

“Our main focus was on team D because It felt like every single one of them had a mind to take the ball to goal,” said junior defender Jenelle Stegeland.

That kind of unity takes time to gel. Syracuse started the season with no returning midfielders. They’ve since become a well-oiled machine.

“We’re a real young team, and we had the toughest schedule in the country on the road,” said Gait. “Earlier in the season, we would have let that get away.”

The Orange almost did let the win get away. After building a 10-5 lead with 8:17 to play, they allowed Loyola to score four straight to climb back into the game. The final three goals came in less than three minutes. Each of those three goals was keyed by a turnover caused by the out-of-cage play of Loyola goalie Kerry Stoothoff. Stoothoff finished with 6 saves and two recorded turnovers. While she couldn’t quite get the W, she did an excellent job of stepping up and trying to make something happen from the defensive end. With 25 seconds remaining, Syracuse controlled the final draw and denied the Hounds an equalizer. Loyola, which began its season on a 13-0 run, is now 1-2 in its last three games.  These two teams may well meet again in next week's Big East tournament. Stay tuned to LMO to see how it plays out!


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