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Colgate earned a five-on-three advantage with over six minutes remaining in regulation through interference and tripping penalties called against Syracuse’s Brynn Koocher and Victoria Klimek, respectively. On the advantage, Colgate’s Sydney Bard connected with Allyson Simpson, whose shot was severely tipped before it dropped between the pads of SU goalkeeper Allison Small. The call was overturned after a review, giving Colgate the tie at the time.
Then, 19 seconds into overtime, Bard and Simpson switched roles. This time, Simpson providing for Bard as the defender found the net to end the game. The goal sealed Syracuse’s fate after the Orange blew a two-goal lead in the final 10 minutes.
“For us, it’s really disappointing because we scored two goals, you get up 2-0, and we’re not playing to protect the lead, but were obviously struggling to mount much offensively in the third,” Syracuse head coach Paul Flanagan said. “But just get the puck out of the zone, get it in deep and get good changes, and we didn’t. I give Colgate credit in that respect, they kept coming at us.”
Despite a strong showing from the freshman class, Syracuse (0-1) collapsed in the final period, dropping their season opener 3-2 in overtime against Colgate (1-0) on Friday night. Small was sharp in her first outing as the true starting goalie, recording 25 saves on 28 shots, and freshman Rayla Clemons scored both of the Orange’s goals. But, ultimately, it wasn’t enough.
Clemons found the back of the net one minute and 12 seconds into Syracuse’s season. In the first period of the Orange’s season-opener against Colgate, she collected the puck off the boards, took it into the Colgate zone and fired a wrist shot under the goalie’s arm. Over 14 minutes later, Klimek sped into the offensive zone with the puck on her stick and with Clemons following suit to her left. Klimek passed to the charging Clemons, who promptly pushed home the second goal of her first collegiate outing.
“Aside from scoring two goals early in the game, she was making some real nice plays in the defensive zone,” Flanagan said. “We knew going into the game that she was someone we were going to utilize on the penalty kill.”
Flanagan sent out Clemons to take the opening draw of overtime, too, but the freshman couldn’t come up with the puck and the Raiders completed the comeback win. Syracuse hasn’t won an NCAA season opener since Oct. 2, 2014, when it defeated Colgate 2-1.
For Small, the three goals she did allow were all heavily screened. Small stopped all but two shots she could actually get her eyes on, Flanagan said. After the halfway mark in the third period, the two Raiders goals in four minutes were the result of traffic in front of Small, which limited her vision. The final six minutes ticked away, and the game headed to overtime.
Despite the outcome of the game, Flanagan blamed most of the shortcomings on fatigue and lack of experience. The team was effective for most of the game, he said, and multiple members of the freshman class made an impact. Although they didn’t know what to expect, Flanagan said the freshman class proved they were ready for Division I hockey right from the opening puck drop.
Early in the second period, Sarah Thompson crashed the net, looking for a rebound goal. Though she didn’t find the net, she led offensive pushes during her time on the ice. Late in a particularly physical second period, freshman Tatum White was sent to the penalty box after checking Maggie MacEachern into the boards behind Small.
Flanagan believes the team and the freshmen can come back for another strong performance Saturday afternoon at Colgate, the second game of this series.
“They played as well as any group tonight, the freshmen class,” Flanagan said. “They were getting quality minutes because they deserved it.”
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