LACROSSE: Tormented By Turnovers
Published: Thursday, February 27, 2014
Updated: Thursday, February 27, 2014 03:02
There’s a word in sports that can turn the tide of a game, cause a shiver to go down a fan’s spine, and give coaches fits. That word is “turnover.” A poorly timed turnover can destroy any momentum a team may have, lift the spirits of the recovering team, and even lead directly to points. A bad turnover in the defensive zone is akin to handing the opponent a scoring opportunity in hockey. A turnover in basketball is giving up your own scoring opportunity. Turnovers are never good, and if they pile up, they can destroy a team more thoroughly than the opposing team ever could.
Going into Wednesday afternoon’s matchup, both the No. 10 Boston College Eagles and the No. 2 Syracuse Orange were flying high, both coming off of weekend wins over tough opponents. While BC gave Syracuse a run for its money, it ultimately came up short, falling 11-9 to the Orange. Early on, the Eagles hung tough, taking a 4-3 lead into halftime and leading 5-4 with just over 16 minutes to go in the game. Then, the tides turned, and the turnovers took their toll.
BC’s previous game, a 9-7 win over Ohio State, featured an opposing defense that played tight around the crease and rejected any opportunity to drive on net. Syracuse’s defensive game plan could not have been more different. No matter where the ball was, a Syracuse defender was right there. This restricted the ability of BC’s offense to think, let alone move the ball and create scoring opportunities. Combined with active defensive sticks, BC found it tough at points to get into a rhythm on offense, and the team turned the ball over with an alarming regularity.
Head coach Acacia Walker was disappointed in the offense’s performance. “The game is won with possession, and we can’t throw the ball away,” Walker said. Although junior middle Mikaela Rix scored a hat trick and junior Covie Stanwick, sophomore Sarah Mannelly, and senior Moira Barry each scored two goals apiece, the 17 BC turnovers ultimately downed the Eagles.
BC’s inability to win face-offs at key times was also costly. With BC leading 5-4 halfway through the second half, Syracuse went on a 4-0 run that ultimately proved too much for the Eagles to overcome. The first goal of that sequence came off a failed free position shot from Stanwick. The subsequent three goals came when Syracuse was able to win the draw and carry possession into the attacking zone. In five minutes, the Orange netted four goals by four different players, without BC ever getting a chance in its own offensive zone.
Walker did see some positives in the way her team fought, however. “I think our defense was here to win, you know, our midfield did their job,” she said. “I just think offensively in transition, we’ve got to take care of the ball more.” Defensively, BC was facing a tall task against a Syracuse offense that had scored 21, 25, 18, and 18 goals in its first four games. The Eagles proved they were more than up to the task, however, limiting the Orange to just 11 goals on 18 shots on goal. Senior defender Kate McCarthy’s performance was of particular note, as she consistently drew the assignment of shadowing sophomore attack Kayla Treanor. Syracuse’s leading point-scorer, Treanor, already had 16 goals and 11 assists coming into the game, averaging almost seven points per game. Treanor did tally three assists and two goals, but for the most part, McCarthy was able to keep her away from the crease. Syracuse’s scoring was spread across its lineup, showcasing why the Orange are such a formidable team. Seniors Katie Webster and Alyssa Murray notched three goals apiece, while freshman attack Taylor Poplawski scored twice, and junior Gabby Jaquith netted SU’s final goal with an open netter with 1:38 left in the game.
For stretches of the game, however, BC was firmly in control of the Orange, and much of the credit must go to goalie Emily Mata. Mata saved seven shots, stymieing SU on several point-blank attempts. Walker was more than satisfied with her junior’s performance in net. “Yeah, Emily’s been working really hard in the last couple of weeks to have a game like that,” Walker said. “Unfortunately we just came out short, and Syracuse is an incredible, incredible team.”
On the other end of the field, Syracuse’s own junior goaltender, Kelsey Richardson, was equal to the task, making six saves of her own in her first complete game of the season. Richardson constantly kept Syracuse close, never allowing BC to take more than a one-goal lead at any point in the game.
Syracuse deserves most of the credit for holding BC to nine goals with its aggressive defense and solid goaltending, but it’s hard to view this performance as one of utter domination by the Orange. BC had the opportunity to win this game, but instead, the Eagles did the one thing that can drive any coach up a wall—they turned it over.