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Coming off four straight wins, Syracuse hosted top-ranked North Carolina on its senior day. But the days leading into the game presented challenges for the Orange, as a day before, the team announced that midfielder Emma Tyrrell would miss the rest of the season with a leg injury.
The game started off back and forth as the goal margin remained within one score for most of the first three quarters. But after Megan Carney injured her knee, sidelining her for the second half, Syracuse began to fall behind in the fourth quarter and couldn’t come back.
Here are some observations from No. 4 Syracuse’s (10-3, 5-1 Atlantic Coast) 14-12 loss to No. 1 UNC (13-0, 6-0 ACC) on Saturday:
Draw control success
Ally Mastroianni won the first draw of the game against Kate Mashewske, giving the Tar Heels the game’s first possession. The Syracuse defense held strong, and Meaghan Tyrrell scored its first goal on the next possession. And Mashewske helped Syracuse earn the next seven draw controls, where by the end of the first period, the Orange led the Tar Heels 7-2.
To start the second quarter, squaring up against Mastroianni once again, Mashewske started where she left off, this time winning the opening draw. Mashewske popped the ball forward in the air and then ran to catch it, giving Syracuse a chance to open the quarter with a score. Mashewske also relied on the rest of the Orange’s unit to secure draw controls. She began the third quarter by spotting an open Sarah Cooper and cleanly tossed the ball back to her before any UNC players could grab it. Consequently, Olivia Adamson scored to give the Orange an 8-7 lead.
But after that goal, Mashewske began to struggle and gave up four draw controls in a row, which allowed UNC to go on a 4-0 run and take an 11-8 lead. With the Orange down two goals with 1:30 left in the game, Syracuse needed Mashewske to win the draw to keep the game alive, and she did. Still, Syracuse’s 16-13 draw control advantage couldn’t preserve a win.
Carney leaves early with an injury
With about five minutes left in the second quarter, Carney left the game with what looked like a slight limp. Carney, who missed some of last season with a torn ACL, missed the two games against Loyola Maryland and Pittsburgh for undisclosed reasons.
Carney walked off the field on her own and remained standing up on her own on the sidelines but was visibly upset. Emma Ward, who was injured a month before the season started, stood next to Carney with her arm around her. In the second half, Carney came back to the sidelines but didn’t return to the action as her left knee was wrapped.
Learning to fill the void
Without Emma Tyrrell, one of Syracuse’s leading scorers and distributors, Syracuse relied heavily on a combination of sophomore midfielders Natalie Smith and Maddy Baxter to play an increased role throughout the game.
Entering Saturday’s game, Smith had only recorded three goals, which was as many as she recorded against the Tar Heels. At the end of the first quarter she missed two shots on two consecutive possessions and also turned the ball over when she threw a lofty pass to Baxter, who couldn’t grab it with a UNC defender on her back.
In the second quarter, however, Smith factored in offensively and scored twice to keep Syracuse in the game. Her first goal went unassisted, but it was created by Emily Hawryschuk who set a pick on her defender, freeing her up for space to shoot. On her second goal, she sped past Olivia Dirks in an isolation situation and gave Syracuse a 7-6 lead.
Still, it was evident that the Orange relied on Emma Tyrrell when Baxter earned a free-position opportunity in the fourth. Against Loyola, Emma Tyrrell went a perfect 3-3 on free positions to give Syracuse the edge over the Greyhounds. In a chance to cut UNC’s lead to one goal, Baxter turned the ball over on the attempt.
As Syracuse was desperate to score with three minutes left in the fourth quarter, Smith got the ball on the right side with the possession clock down to under 10 seconds. The freshman accelerated down the right side and fired a shot to close the gap to a one-goal UNC lead.
SU’s tired legs
Defensively, Syracuse played a clean game in the first half but had a stretch of six fouls in a row on defensive possessions. UNC had four free-position attempts in the first half, but as Syracuse began to wear down, it was forced to foul UNC players to prevent goals, which led to seven Tar Heel free-position attempts.
Even Meaghan Tyrrell showed signs of exhaustion late in the game. In the fourth quarter she ran around cradling the ball in an attempt to create a chance with six minutes remaining. Meaghan Tyrrell had already scored four goals and dished out two assists, but at that moment she looked fatigued, and when three UNC players collapsed on her, she coughed up the ball from the Tar Heels’ pressure.
Still, Syracuse was able to regain possession seconds later after UNC failed to clear the ball. But when Meaghan Tyrrell got it again right around midfield, she passed it too far to Sam Swart who was running up in transition.
The post Observations from No. 4 SU vs. No. 1 UNC: Carney’s injury, Orange run out of energy appeared first on The Daily Orange.