Northwestern slips by Syracuse in OT
Smith tallies five scores, becomes fifth Wildcat to top 200 goals
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- After two games this season in which it never trailed on the scoreboard, No. 1 Northwestern responded to a four-goal deficit by staging a 7-0 run and seizing a late 9-6 lead on No. 9 Syracuse. But the Orange rallied to send the game to overtime, where the Wildcats received goals by Erin Fitzgerald and Shannon Smith to knock off the hosts 11-9 on Wednesday in the Carrier Dome.
Smith finished with five goals for the second consecutive game, in the process becoming just the fifth player in NU history to top 200 career goals (201). While Smith was coming alive in the second half offensively, Northwestern held Syracuse without a goal for nearly 30 minutes of game action on the other end while overcoming its deficit. Senior goalkeeper Brianne LoManto was instrumental in that defensive stand, posting five second-half saves and finishing with nine in the game for the 'Cats.
It marks the third consecutive game to open the year Northwestern has held a top-10 ranked opponent to fewer than 10 goals.
"Syracuse is an outstanding team and very well coached, and they came out with a lot of fight," NU head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller said. "I thought our team did a good job of making adjustments at halftime, realizing that the game was in reach and going after it. We need to eliminate some of the mental mistakes that we had toward the end of regulation, but we refocused well enough to get some stops and win it in overtime."
After Gabriella Flibotte notched the game's first goal less than a minute into the contest, Syracuse found a groove both offensively and on the draw controls to take a 3-1 lead only three minutes later. The Orange extended its lead to 4-1 when Katie Webster scored her second of the game at the 14:16 mark and, by the time Michelle Tumolo notched back-to-back goals with 3:30 to go, found itself ahead 6-2.
As it turned out, those Tumolo goals would be the last of the Syracuse scoring until less than five minutes remained in the game. Smith was able to pull one back for the 'Cats before intermission with her free position goal, sending the teams to the locker rooms with SU ahead 6-3.
Freshman Casey Bocklet helped drive Northwestern's scoring run in the second half, scoring her first career goal at the 24:30 mark to pull NU within two. An unassisted Smith tally preceded Beatrice Conley's low sidearm shot four minutes later, and Smith managed to strike twice more in a span of 35 seconds to put NU up, 8-6.
Northwestern's lead reached three when Lacey Vigmostad finished a feed from Smith with just under 10 minutes remaining. But Syracuse did not go away, netting back-to-back free position goals, the second coming with 3:40 to play as the Orange sliced its deficit to one. Syracuse maintained possession down the stretch and ultimately notched the game-tying tally with 51 seconds left when Tumolo -- previously held scoreless in the half by a Kerri Harrington faceguard -- got free on the crease and scored to pull SU level.
Syracuse won the ensuing draw but never got a good look on cage in the waning seconds, sending the game to overtime. In the extra period, SU took the draw but immediately turned it over, leading to Fitzgerald's scoring dodge 1:03 into overtime -- Fitzgerald's first point of the game.
Smith would add a goal for breathing room at the buzzer of the first period of overtime, and the Wildcats held defensively over the final three minutes to secure the win.
Senior midfielder Alex Frank helped steady the 'Cats with three ground balls and two caused turnovers, while Alyssa Leonard led NU with four draw controls.