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Lack of Momentum in the Fourth Quarter Dooms No. 3 Syracuse

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Syracuse's Emily Hawryschuk (51) battles with a Northwestern defender. The grad student finished with a season-high six goals, leading the way for the Orange.

The third-ranked Syracuse women’s lacrosse team lost momentum at the wrong time, which resulted in its first loss of the season 16-15 to sixth-ranked Northwestern in overtime.

Like other sports, lacrosse is a game of runs. The team that has the energy to make a significant push at the end of the contest is usually the side to take home the win. That was the case on Tuesday evening.

The first run came for Northwestern as the first half came to a close. The majority of the first two quarters were filled with a contentious back-and-forth until the score was knotted up at five with 10-minutes left in the frame. That’s when the duo of attacker Lauren Gilbert and midfielder Jill Girardi extended the lead for the Wildcats. Spoiler alert: this wouldn’t be the last time. At this point, NU pushed its lead out to three, after a 4-0 run to end the first half.

The score was 8-5 going into the locker room with SU on its heels. Three was the largest lead of the game at that point; the Orange were struggling to stop the pressure from the Wildcat defense. Head Coach Kayla Treanor made the necessary adjustments to flip the script in the third quarter. The Cuse offense exploded. Six-straight goals. An 8-2 run in the 15-minute period with six different players finding the back of the cage. It was the most goals scored in the third quarter by the Orange all season.

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Syracuse's Megan Carney (22) attacks the opposing defense during an offensive possession. The senior attacker was held scoreless for the first time this season.

The third quarter for Syracuse hasn’t really been a problem. It’s the final period which has been the Achilles heel for the experienced squad. Closing out games is the current flaw of this top-three team.

Let’s look back on the previous competition. At 17th-ranked Notre Dame, the Irish outscored the Orange 7-2 in the final quarter to force extra time. Luckily for Syracuse, it overcame the burst from the opposition with a Meaghan Tyrrell winner in overtime, but a similar scenario came back to bite them Tuesday. SU had a breakout third quarter, but evaporated in the fourth, ending in the first defeat in the Kayla Treanor era in Evanston.

Speaking of that final frame, Northwestern reignited. Remember Lauren Gilbert and Jill Girardi? Well, the pair came back in a big way and carried their team in the process. The Wildcats scored five goals in the final stretch of regulation, all at the hands of Gilbert or Girardi. The one-two punch notched 11 total goals and even more importantly, Gilbert called the game with a free position strike to end the game.

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Northwestern Athletics
Northwestern's Lauren Gilbert (1) celebrates, after scoring one of seven goals. The attacker netted the game-winner in overtime.

The scoresheet wasn’t the only place the combination won. The draw control circle also became a differentiator. Girardi won a season-high 13 draw controls, which is only a portion of the 21 that NU collected to the SU 14 total.

Northwestern took control of the momentum and never loosened its grip before heading into the overtime period. The Wildcats won the first draw control and nailed the game-winner almost immediately.

Syracuse fell to 4-1 on the season. The Orange come back home to the Dome this Sunday at noon against number seven Duke prior to the men’s matchup at four against Hobart.