No. 3 Syracuse beats No. 4 UConn, earns top seed in Big East tournament
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- No. 3 Syracuse (16-1, 6-0) captured its third Big East regular-season title in the last four years, defeating No. 4 Connecticut (16-2, 5-1) 3-2 on Saturday at J.S. Coyne Stadium.
The victory gives the Orange the top seed in the Big East Championship. Syracuse will face fourth-seed Providence in the first semifinal on Friday at 5 p.m. at Louisville's Trager Stadium. UConn receives the second seed and will play third-seed Louisville on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
"It feels great going out and getting the win for our seniors," head coach Ange Bradley said. "Going out of the Big East Conference, it's awesome to have Syracuse in there. Now we have to get to the tournament and to NCAAs."
It was fitting on Senior Day at Coyne Stadium that two of the Orange's goals came from those honored in a ceremony prior to the game. Graduate student Liz McInerney scored the game's first goal and senior captain Kelsey Millman recorded the second, putting the Orange ahead for good.
Freshman Gillian Pinder scored the Orange's third goal with 7:53 remaining, giving the home team a 3-1 lead, and that proved to be the difference as the Huskies scored with 4:48 remaining to make it a one-goal game but could not get the equalizer.
The Orange's 16-1 regular-season record ties the program record for fewest losses. In 2008, the Orange went 18-1 in the regular season before finishing 22-2 overall after making the NCAA semifinals.
Syracuse got on the board first in the 29th minute when McInerney found the back of the net off a penalty corner.
UConn erased the one-goal deficit early in the second half. Chloe Hunnable scored her first of two goals in the game, sneaking a shot inside the right post off a steal in the 40th minute.
Millman answered for the Orange less than six minutes later, tipping the ball in on a drive from the top of the circle for her team-leading 11th goal of the season.
Pinder scored her goal in the 63rd minute off an assist from Jordan Page, the Orange's second goal of the game coming from a penalty corner. It was Pinder's eighth of the season while Page picked up her team-best ninth assist.
Hunnable pulled UConn within a goal, scoring off penalty corner with 4:48 to go, but the nation's top-ranked defense kept the Huskies off the board for the duration of the game.
Senior goalie Leann Stiver made two saves as she and her classmates improved their record in conference games to 23-1 and ran the Orange's home winning streak to 36 games.