March 6, 2012

Lochary: Takeaways from Bevy of WD1 Upsets

by Clare Lochary | LaxMagazine.com

Katie Webster gave Syracuse its first win over a top 5 program since 2006 with her game-winner against then-No. 4 Florida on Saturday.
© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com 

March came in like a lion for a number of teams, as a handful of remarkable upsets transpired last week. Let's take a look at some of the more notable ones. All the rankings are from last week's coaches' poll for clarity's sake. If we used the March 5 poll, some of these would not be numerical upsets anymore.

Saturday: No. 9 Syracuse 11, No. 4 Florida 10, 2OT

Why It Matters: Syracuse has (2-2) had a stop-start season versus a tough schedule. The Orange destroyed then-No. 12 Boston College, fell to then-No. 10 Virginia, and took still-No. 1 Northwestern to overtime but ultimately lost. A big road win was a great emotional boost for this young team. The Orange went up 4-0 early and allowed Florida (4-2) to score three goals in the final minute to force OT, but hung on for the win with a goal from sophomore Katie Webster. It was Syracuse's first win over a top 5 program since 2006.

"Beating a top 10 team, and feeling a win like that is the best feeling ever and we don't want to lose that feeling," Webster said.

"After Northwestern, we were really bummed at first but we said, 'Look how far we've come. We learned how to play in OT – get the draw, get the ball, get the shot. Keep possession and put it in the goal.'"

Sidenote: Webster suffers from a tragic affliction that troubles many, many athletes. She does not remember the details of her game-winning play, to the consternation of reporters who would like descriptions of the details of cool stuff that happens on the field. Kidding! She actually did a pretty good job ("I hardly remember it. It was so fast. I did my dodge and I saw the bottom of the net go 'Whoosh!' I was so excited.") It's always surprising to me how often players don't remember their best plays. It almost certainly has something to do with the split-second decision making that top athletes need to have in clutch situations.

X Factor: A career-best 13 saves for Gators sophomore goalkeeper Alyssa Constantino, in a game when Florida had more shots (39-26) and draw controls (15-12) and fewer turnovers (9-20) than Syracuse. For the first three games of the season, head coach Gary Gait platooned goalies, starting Constantino and subbing freshman Kelsey Richardson. Constantino played the whole game versus the Gators.

"One on one with Alyssa Constantino is scary, because usually she's going to stuff you or kick save it or something. It's hard," said Webster.

Up Next for Syracuse: At No. 3 Maryland on Saturday. The Orange has never beaten the Terps in 11 tries. Last year, Syracuse tried a slow-down game and lost 7-5. Expect a similar look this time around. I'll be in College Park live-blogging this game, so please come back to LaxMagazine.com for coverage.

Sunday: No. 19 Penn State 14, No. 6 Virginia 7

Why It Matters: This was the highest-ranked opponent the Nittany Lions (4-1) had ever beaten during head coach Missy Doherty's two-year tenure in State College. Securing a win was a coup for a program that's hoping to become a consistent part of the nation's elite. "We want to be in these big games," said Doherty. "We want to be one of the teams trying to get an upset, to holding your place against the very top teams, to going into games with teams trying to upset you."

X Factor: The defensive unit. Senior defender Brittaney Chamberlain missed three games with concussion-like symptoms and was cleared to play in time for Virginia. The Cavaliers (3-2) were limited to just 17 shots, including just six in the first half. That allowed Penn State to build a 9-2 lead in the first period. Senior goalie Dana Cahill also had six saves.

"We were trying different units and got one that clicked," Doherty said. "UVa's definitely very deliberate in what they do and we needed to be ahead of them. We did a good job stopping their cuts."

The Nittany Lions also worked on ground balls after their 16-6 loss to Maryland, in which the Terps won the GB battle 27-16.

Up Next for Penn State: At home vs. No. 12 Loyola on Wednesday.

Sunday: No. 14 Notre Dame 16, No. 10 Ohio State 7

Why It Matters: The Christine Halfpenny era is off to a wonderful start in South Bend. The Irish are 3-0 and now have wins over two top 10 opponents (Ohio State and Stanford, which was No. 6 in the nation when they lost to the Irish, 17-14, on February 19). The Buckeyes were 5-0 going into the game, which was played at the 'Shoe.

X Factor: A 16-save performance by Notre Dame goalie Ellie Hilling. Ohio State averaged 17 goals per game before they encountered Hilling.

Up Next for Notre Dame: At Boston University on Saturday.

Saturday: Stony Brook 15, No. 20 Johns Hopkins 14

Why It Matters: This was a program-first win over a ranked program for the Seawolves. Joe Spallina, a three-time NCAA champ at Division II Adelphi, wants the same kind of success at Stony Brook, and his team delivered in a wild game that featured nine ties and six lead changes.

X Factor: Junior attacker Claire Petersen had six goals and three assists, including the game-winner. The transfer was better known for her assists than goals at Adelphi (125 a, 57 g in 2011) but she has a mean crease roll and a great shot. She knows that teams scout her as a feeder, and has changed it up accordingly. Holding her to just two goals is a big part of why No. 5 Duke was able to squeak to a 9-8 win over the Seawolves (5-1) on Monday. Petersen has averaged 6.75 points per game this season.

Up Next for Stony Brook: At No. 5 Florida on March 14.

Wednesday: Rutgers 11, No. 10 Princeton 10

Why It Matters: The Scarlet Knights (1-2) and the Tigers (1-2) have a fierce in-state rivalry. The match-up has been decided by a single goal in the last four meetings, with the 2011 game going to Princeton, 9-8, in overtime. Rutgers needed a win after dropping two one-goal games to Temple and Cornell, and it was great for them that it came over Princeton. The Scarlet Knights have a stated goal of playing in the Big East championship this season and defeating a ranked opponent was an important stepping stone.

"It's tough to come out on the bad end of one-goal games and still keep your mind about you, and get after it for the next game," said Rutgers head coach Laura Brand-Sias. "The past few years, we've started out our season the same way. We've played Temple and Cornell, and they've been good games and we've been successful. But the last few years, come May? We've been sitting at home."

X Factor: Sophomore attacker Lauren Sbrilli had a hat trick, including the game-winner, but she gave the nod to Scarlet Knights assistant coach Anne Murray, a Princeton alum who gave a fiery pre-game speech about how much the rivalry meant to her when she was a Tiger.

"Anne gave us this huge warm-up speech, about how she thought of us when she played at Princeton. It really was a difference from the first minute. We walked in and we had this huge confidence and we had the intimidation factor from the warm-up," said Sbrilli.

Up Next for Rutgers: At No. 9 Penn on Wednesday.

Saturday: Towson 7, No. 12 Loyola 6

Why It Matters: The Tigers got off to a 0-3 start last season, so Towson is thrilled to be 3-0.

"It felt great," said senior goalie Mary Teeters. "Our game plan was really to be aggressive on defense. And the defense played amazing. We were not letting them come inside for 1 on 1s."

X Factor: Teeters had 11 saves in the win, including a few in the final minutes to secure the victory. The game also included Teeters' 500th career save for the Tigers. The four-year starter currently has a .682 save percentage and a 4.71 GAA.

Up Next for Towson: At Johns Hopkins on Wednesday.

Undefeated Watch

There are 12 undefeated teams left in the country. Here's who's up next for the remaining perfect teams. St. Bonaventure still has not started its season, but the Bonnies will play at Niagra (0-2) on Wednesday.

Wednesday, March 7

Vermont (3-0) @ High Point (3-1)
Northwestern (4-0) @ Louisville (1-2)
Temple (5-0) @ Jacksonville (3-1)
Georgetown (2-0) @ Florida (4-2)
Towson (3-0) @ Johns Hopkins (3-2)
Cornell (2-0) @ Colgate (0-4)
Dartmouth (2-0) @ Boston University (1-2)
Canisius (2-0) @ Duquesne (2-2)

Saturday

UMass (5-0) @ Vermont (3-0)
Notre Dame (3-0) @ Boston University (1-2)
North Carolina (7-0) @ Virginia (3-2)


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