March 23, 2014

Syracuse Ends Long Streak to Northwestern With 11-8 Win

by Tyler Piccotti | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

Katie Webster had two goals and two assists to help lead Syracuse to an 11-8 win over Northwestern, breaking an 11-game streak of losses to the Wildcats.(Greg Wall)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – "Thank God. Finally."

With those three words, Syracuse senior attack Alyssa Murray put behind three previous years' worth of frustration. Syracuse had played Northwestern four times during that span, including the 2012 national championship game, and four times the end result was defeat.

But Sunday afternoon, the Orange senior class was determined to change the familiar script.

Murray and fellow senior Katie Webster tallied a combined seven points to help No. 3 Syracuse (9-1, 2-1 Atlantic Coast) finally outlast No. 7 Northwestern (4-3, 1-1 Big Ten) with an 11-7 triumph at the Carrier Dome.

But they weren't the only upperclassmen to get involved. Amy Cross added two goals, and goalkeeper Alyssa Costantino strung together a solid second half in net. Additionally, Natalie Glanell and Liz Harbeson anchored an Orange defense that forced 18 turnovers and allowed only two shots during the final 15 minutes.

Not surprisingly, the scene at midfield following the game was joyous for Syracuse.

"We all just wanted to hug each other after the game because everyone played their role," Glanell said. "We did it together."

Murray and Webster were clearly amped before the game, as both bolted out of the tunnel and through the high-five line. That energy carried through the rest of the afternoon.

Webster opened the scoring on a beautiful cut in front of the net 1:47 into the contest. After that, though, the teams traded blows back and forth through much of the first half.

The Orange carried a 6-4 lead into the break, but two quick goals from Kaleigh Craig and Kat DeRonda brought the Wildcats back even.

Rather than fold, however, SU's seniors responded with a vengeance.

"Even though they were able to come out and score two quick ones on us, we were able to bounce back from that and really make a good run to close out the game," Murray said. "I think that's very telling of our team this year, that we were able to dig deep."

The Orange scored four unanswered goals over the next 15 minutes, including two from Cross. The prettiest, however came when Webster sprinted down the left side in transition and fired a bullet to a streaking Murray, who netted her 23rd goal of the season.

Northwestern gave one final gasp on a Kara Mupo goal that made the score 10-7 with 7:40 remaining, but the Wildcats would not get any closer.

The defense made sure of that.

"(Our defense) really relies on taking away the dodger," Gait said. "Making dodgers become feeders and then putting the pressure on them to make tough feeds. We just kept going after them."

When the clock read all zeros, the entire Orange sideline rushed to the midfield circle and congregated into an exuberant mob. Even Orange senior Bridget Daley, who currently is wearing a protective boot on her left foot, hopped out to the middle of the celebration.

After practice on Friday, Glanell worried that she might have trouble falling asleep on Saturday night, assumedly due to nerves.

If it happens tonight, it's because she and her fellow seniors will be too excited after a milestone win.

"It's just the greatest feeling for all of us," Webster said.

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