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Anna Leschyshyn successfully fought for the puck against two RIT players against the wall at the central zone of the rink before skating towards RIT defender Kyla Bear.
Rayla Clemons trailed, and Leschyshyn, who was just outnumbered, found herself in a two-on-one going towards the RIT net. She carried the puck far enough down the ice to draw Bear to her, and before Bear could shift back over, Clemons had already received the puck and shot at RIT goaltender Sarah Coe. Coe blocked Clemons’ shot, but Sarah Marchand followed it up and tapped the puck in the wide open net to put Syracuse up 1-0 late in the second period.
The goal looked effortless, but it took Syracuse 36 minutes and 43 shots to shake off the rust of a 19-day layoff following a COVID-19 pause. After its first goal, Syracuse (8-9-5, 6-3-0-1 College Hockey America) converted on two more shots to win 3-0 against RIT (0-22-2, 0-8-1 CHA) on Friday.
Lauren Bellefontaine won the faceoff to open up the game, and Syracuse followed it up aggressively, putting three shots on net that Coe saved. RIT countered with its first shot of the night, but it was saved by Arielle DeSmet, who was recently named to the National Women’s Goalie of the Year watch list.
Syracuse then dominated possession of the puck and took six unanswered shots. But RIT still didn’t allow Syracuse to get easy attempts as Bear blocked three out of the six attempts from the Orange.
With a little under five minutes left in the first period, Bellefontaine looped around the net and had an opportunity for a shot with the RIT defender on her hip. She hesitated, however, and passed it back to Terryn Mozes, who took a shot from just past half ice that failed to get on target.
A few moments later, Syracuse found another two-on-one opportunity after a defensive mishap from RIT. Marchand took the puck down the ice with Leschyshyn to her left and an RIT defender in between the two. The defender failed to step up to Marchand, allowing her to take the shot. But it went directly at Coe who gloved the puck, forcing a faceoff.
Jessica DiGirolamo had one more chance to get Syracuse on the board after Bellefontaine won a faceoff with 13 seconds left in the opening period, but her shot was blocked by Lindsay Maloney. Syracuse was 0-for-20 heading into the second period.
“I told the team … we were controlling things, but of course it’s still 0-0,” head coach Paul Flanagan said. “You have to get hungrier offensively.”
Syracuse came out aggressively on offense to start the second period but similar to the first, it struggled to convert. Syracuse had a power play 30 seconds into the period but only managed three shots, one wide from Hannah Johnson, one blocked by Jordan Marchese on RIT, and one saved by Coe, which allowed RIT to earn the penalty kill.
Five minutes later, Marchese got a penalty for boarding, giving the Orange their second power play of the night. Syracuse struggled once again and missed four shots and even allowed an RIT counter play with two shots from the Tigers.
After two failed power plays, Syracuse eventually converted on Marchand’s rebound shot to give the Orange a one-goal lead.
Less than two minutes later, Sarah Thompson had a shot right in front of a crowded net but couldn’t sneak it past the pile of RIT defenders. Marchese came barreling into the play and shoved Thompson to the ground, however, resulting in a roughing penalty and the Orange’s third power play of the night.
On its third try, Syracuse wasted no time scoring a goal and extending the lead to 2-0 before the third period. Bellefontaine won the faceoff and after connecting on a couple passes, DiGirolamo had an open shot from close to neutral ice.
She gathered the pass from Marchand, took a touch with her stick and wristed the shot into the upper corner of the net to put distance between Syracuse and RIT heading into the third period.
“We were moving the puck way better on the third power play,” Marchand said. “We were creating more chances at the net, and it resulted in a goal.”
Syracuse got off to a sluggish start in the third period and gave RIT six straight shots in the first two minutes but held off the Tigers to keep a two-goal lead. Four minutes into the period, Madison Primeau received a penalty, but Marchese received her third of the game a minute later to make it an even four-on-four.
Almost instantly after Syracuse returned to full strength and had another chance at a power play, Abby Moloughney scored Syracuse’s third goal of the game.
Marchand took the puck down behind the RIT goal and dished it to Moloughney for a give-and-go. After Marchand drew the attention of RIT’s defenders, she tapped it back to Moloughney on the left side. Moloughney took one touch and put it past RIT to put Syracuse up 3-0 with 13 minutes left in the third period.
“The team overall played well,” Marchand said. “We had a lot of success on our power plays.”
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