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Columbia’s Sophie Rockefeller lofted a shot off with 2:33 left in the fourth quarter marking the Lions’ first — and final — shot of the game. But it was blocked in a crowded shooting circle, it didn’t require a save from Syracuse goalkeeper Louise Pert.
In No. 11 Syracuse’s 3-0 (8-2, 2-0 Atlantic Coast) win over Columbia (6-3, 0-2 Ivy League), the Orange limited the Lions to only one shot and didn’t concede a single penalty corner. The SU backline continuously thwarted Columbia whenever the Lions progressed up the field, clearing the ball and rarely allowing them to carry possession into the shooting circle. On top of this being SU’s sixth-straight win, it cemented its fourth straight shutout victory. In the past four games, The Orange have scored 11 points and all four opponents have gone scoreless.
“We are good at our (defensive) lines but they got that one shot at the end,” head coach Ange Bradley said.
Syracuse stifled Columbia in the absence of veteran midfielder SJ Quigley, who was on the sideline during the game with a boot on her left foot. Bradley declined to comment on the status of Quigley and the timetable for her return. Quigley was named ACC Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 21.
Starting her first game of the 2021 season, SU junior Marie Sommer stepped in and filled Quigley’s role of inserting the ball on penalty corner plays. Sommer also played at the right-back position, alongside Eefke van den Nieuwenhof and Sienna Pegram to complete SU’s backline.
“She kept it clean,” Bradley said about Sommer. “She did her job.”
A pair of first-half goals from Pleun Lammers followed by one from Charlotte de Vries was enough to secure victory for Syracuse. But SU’s offense only scored three goals out of 22 shots and didn’t convert on any of the six corners the team earned.
“That’s not good enough,” Bradley said about the team’s offensive production.
Pegram shared a similar sentiment. “It’s definitely not the greatest outcome we wanted,” Pegram said. “We had a lot more chances.”
With a sluggish offensive showing, it was the Orange’s strong defensive performance that allowed them to preserve their lead throughout the game. Outside of the opening minutes of the first quarter, Syracuse set the pace of the game.
“We controlled a majority of the possession,” Bradley said. “Our lines at the end were a little messy and that is just stuff that we need to get cleaned up.”
Columbia was only able to break through and create space near Syracuse’s shooting circle when an SU player was dispossessed or misplaced a pass. SU freshman midfielder Willemijn Boogert was caught out twice in the third quarter, which resulted in Columbia driving up the field with a numbers advantage. Laura Graziosi also botched a pass in the midfield that gave Columbia the ball in Syracuse’s defensive half of the field. But even in these situations, SU’s backline trio — Sommer, van den Nieuwenhof and Pegram — was there to derail any chance of a successful Lions counterattack.
“It’s nice because we’re finally getting the outcome that I think we deserve,” Pegram said. “All we can do is just keep it going and keep getting better.”
With just under three minutes left in regulation, it seemed as though Columbia earned their first penalty corner of the game. The play was reviewed, though, and only resulted in a long hit for the Lions. Following the review, Rockefeller received a pass in the shooting circle and was able to attempt Columbia’s first shot. But her effort didn’t amount to anything, as Rockefeller’s shot was blocked before it even reached Pert. The Orange played out the final minutes for their sixth-straight win and have not conceded a goal in their last four games.
“We just have a plan, we stick to it,” Pegram said. “(We’re) just keeping our heads focused for the bigger picture.”
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