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No. 1 seed North Carolina and No. 2 seed Syracuse’s Atlantic Coast Conference title game was a defensive showdown. Syracuse goalie Asa Goldstock finished with 11 saves, and the Orange caused four turnovers in the 9-4 loss.
But SU didn’t have the firepower offensively with 16 turnovers and a shot percentage of 18.2%. Emma Ward was the most successful on the offensive end, finishing with points on all four goals.
Here are three takeaways from Syracuse’s (14-3, 8-2 ACC) ACC title loss to North Carolina (18-0, 9-0):
The Orange held the Tar Heels, who are second in the ACC with 16.11 goals per game, to four first-half scores.
The main contributor for SU’s defensive success was Goldstock, who made six saves in the opening period. UNC sent a lot of cutters through the 8-meter, but Goldstock got her stick on most of the shots that the Tar Heels made. Midway through the frame, Katie Hoeg found the ACC’s leading scorer in Jamie Ortega for a shot attempt at point-blank range, and Goldstock simply punched the ball over the net and out of bounds.
North Carolina continued to find open shots in the first half, finding the back of the net on some attempts. Syracuse continued to cause issues for the Tar Heels, however, making slides on the UNC attempts.
Kerry Defliese, who finished with three caused turnovers, repeatedly got her stick in the passing lane. In the second half, the Tar Heels attempted to extend their 5-2 lead. Hoeg made her way from behind the net, spotting an open UNC player inside the 8-meter. But Defliese collapsed on Hoeg, knocking the pass down. And the Orange turned that defensive stop into offense as Emma Tyrrell scored on a no-look shovel shot off the transition.
Still, the Orange were unable to come out of Chapel Hill with a victory as Goldstock struggled to guard free position shots. The Tar Heels scored three times on free position opportunities by the end of the outing.
Ward delivers again
After having a career-high five goals in Syracuse’s semifinal win over No. 3 seed Boston College, Ward was SU’s offensive catalyst again.
For the Orange’s first score, they began their motion offense and Ward was able to flip the ball to Emily Ehle who found the back of the net. Later in the first period, Ward started to position behind the net, quarterbacking the SU attack.
At the end of the first half, Ward started from the back of the net, passing the ball to the right side of the field before curling inside the 8-meter. She was left unmarked, and Ehle found her at the doorstep for a score.
Ward continued to cause issues for North Carolina’s defense in the last period. On Emma Tyrrell’s no-look score, Ward was able to draw North Carolina’s defense towards her and create space inside the 8-meter. She passed high over one defender to Emma Tyrrell to cut North Carolina’s lead to two goals.
Ward finished with two goals and two assists, but it wasn’t enough to stop North Carolina’s ACC dynasty.
Up and down at the free position
Heading into the ACC title matchup, Syrcause was 1-of-7 with free position shots in the entire tournament. Early on for the Orange, this issue showed.
Meaghan Tyrrell was the first SU player to earn a free position opportunity after she was fouled with 14 minutes left in the first half. Out of the opportunity, the Orange ran a set play as Meaghan passed to Ehle who curled from behind the net.
Ehle passed to Emma Tyrrell who was fouled and took her turn at the top of the 8-meter. Emma Tyrrell elected to charge the cage, but before she was able to get a shot she was fouled again. On the third free position opportunity in one possession, the Orange left empty-handed, unable to close on UNC’s 3-1 lead.
In the second half, however, Ward broke Syracuse’s misfortune at the free position. While on the other opportunities the Orange charged the cage or passed, Ward stayed at the top of the 8-meter and lasered a ball into the back of the net to cut UNC’s lead to two scores.
The Orange tried their play again as Sam Swart passed to Ehle who curled from behind the net. But, Ehle was surrounded by North Carolina’s defense, and the ball was knocked out of her stick. Syracuse finished with one score on six free position opportunities.
The post 3 takeaways from Syracuse’s 9-4 ACC championship loss to UNC appeared first on The Daily Orange.