Defense-1st strategy not enough in 5-2 loss to No. 6 Cornell

first_img Published on January 29, 2019 at 11:01 pm Contact Danny: dremerma@syr.edu | @DannyEmerman Despite the 5-2 result, Syracuse — for even a short period — demonstrated a formula to beat faster, stronger and more talented teams. By committing to a defensively oriented gameplan predicated on forwards skating back on the defense and generating chances on counter-attacks, Syracuse (6-17-2, 6-5-1 College Hockey America) took an early 2-0 lead on No. 6 Cornell 14-2-5, 5-2-1 Ivy League) before losing momentum and surrendering five unanswered goals. “Just trying to adapt to their speed,” center Brooke Avery said of the commitment to pinching back on defense. Center Lauren Bellefontaine, who was key in dropping back on defense and winning the puck in the neutral zone, set up Syracuse’s first goal. Four minutes into the game, she dropped off a pass on the left wing for Allie Munroe, who carried it behind the net into Gretzky’s office and put a wraparound shot on net. Munroe’s shot was deflected and finished by Anonda Hoppner.On one play in the second period, Bellefontaine tracked back on defense to help freshman defenseman Shelby Calof double team a Cornell forward in the deep corner. The trap led to a turnover and counter-attack. Bellefontaine recorded four blocks in the game.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“Because they have a lot of speed on their team,” Bellefontaine said, “(And) a lot of skill, they like to dangle around players, so it was very important for us to be in the right place at the right time so they wouldn’t get by you.”Ally Walsh | Staff PhotographerTo go up 2-0, winger Emma Polaski got back on defense to capture a steal in the neutral zone. The ensuing back-and-forth combination between her and Abby Moloughney on the counterattack led to Polaski’s team-leading tenth goal of the season.Another one of SU’s best chances started on defense. Early in the first period, defenseman Allie Olnowich won possession in the back and angled a pass off the board perfectly to Polaski streaking through an open space in the neutral zone. Later, forward Victoria Klimek got two breakaway chances by leaking out after defensive stops. Cornell’s Grace Graham cut Syracuse’s lead in half nine minutes into the first period with a wrist shot from the slot. Goalkeeper Allison Small (25 saves) didn’t react in time. Cornell would tie it in the second period with a deflected shot from the blue line. Syracuse’s defensive strategy faltered further when two forwards missed assignments in the D-zone to open the third period on a Cornell power play, which made it 3-2. A miscommunication on the back end led to Cornell’s fourth goal, where goalkeeper Allison Small (25 saves) couldn’t hold on to a shot under pressure. A minute later, an over-the-top lob pass found a streaking Amy Curlew for a breakaway which she finished.“The most glaring aspect of the third period was they were more fit than us,” Flanagan said. “They just looked like they were wheeling pretty good and were making crisp passes, and they just seemed to have more energy.”With Kristen Siermachesky (upper body) and Lindsay Eastwood (illness) watching from the bleachers, SU played Logan Hicks, typically a forward, heavy minutes in the back. Dakota Derrer, another SU defenders it relied on earlier in the year, ended her Syracuse career with a concussion on Nov. 5. Hicks last played defense as a freshman before transitioning to forward, but she said she was comfortable.“Everybody was helping out,” Hicks said. “We were really focusing on … getting everyone involved in the d-zone, making sure we got it out and not getting stuck in our own end too long.” On one play, a Cornell forward had a step on Hicks through the blue line, but Hicks recovered and cut off the angle, eventually deflecting her shot off the boards. Hicks recorded two blocks in the game. The Orange contained one-on-ones in the first two periods, but struggled as the game progressed because of fatigue, Flanagan said.Big Red forward Maddie Mills, who leads Cornell in goals with 14, entered the game ranked 18th in the country in points. The SU defense limited her to just one shot on goal. The Big Red, who average an 11th-best 3.15 goals per game, entered the third period with two scores before exploding for three in the third. Head coach Paul Flanagan attributed their slow start to being “half asleep.” Cornell woke up, and Syracuse’s defensive strategy fell apart. Commentscenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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