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Late in the second period, Penn State worked the puck around on Syracuse’s half of the ice until Sarah Marchand disrupted the Nittany Lions’ offensive rhythm by poking the puck loose. Anna Leschyshyn recovered the puck and skated down the left side of the ice with a Penn State defender in between her and Victoria Klimek.
Leschyshyn and Klimek orchestrated a give-and-go with each other which gave Leschyshyn a clear shot right in front of the goal, firing a shot into the back of the net to put Syracuse up 4-1.
Syracuse (5-6-2, 4-2 College Hockey America) beat Penn State (7-5-2, 4-2 CHA) after a three-goal second period, one day after an overtime loss to the Nittany Lions. Saturday’s win left Syracuse tied with Penn State for first place in the CHA.
It took both teams 60 minutes plus overtime to score the first goal on Friday night in the Orange’s 1-0 loss to the Nittany Lions. But on Saturday, it took seven minutes for PSU to score the game’s opening goal.
Penn State’s Jess Ciarrocchi sent a long pass along the left wall past the Syracuse defensemen to Carrie Byrnes, leaving her one-on-one with Hannah Johnson. Byrnes accelerated into SU’s zone ahead of Johnson and launched a shot past Arielle DeSmet to put the Nittany Lions up 1-0.
Unlike Friday night’s game which was decided on a sudden-death goal, Syracuse quickly responded with one of its own, doing so on a power play four minutes later. Mae Batherson sent in a long shot which went wide and to the right of the Penn State goal. But the puck bounced off the back wall and fell right into the stick of Klimek who tapped in the shot while the Penn State defense was still recovering from Batherson’s shot.
Penn State earned a power play and then outshot Syracuse 8-1 to close out the opening period, but it couldn’t score as a result of DeSmet’s goaltending and strong netfront presence by the Syracuse defense.
Penn State nearly took a 2-1 lead late in the first period when Natalie Heising played Alyssa Machado in on a one-on-one with DeSmet from close range. But DeSmet blocked two consecutive shots and then the Syracuse defense pushed out the Nittany Lions. From there, Syracuse countered and took the period’s final five shots, putting more pressure on the Penn State defense and goaltender Josie Bothun.
Early in the second period, however, Penn State dominated, and the Nittany Lions took the next six shots and won the next three faceoffs. But after killing off a Madison Primeau penalty, Syracuse turned things around when Klimek scored her third goal of the season off of a Rayla Clemons assist to put the Orange up 2-1.
Similar to its first goal, Syracuse tracked down the puck after in the Penn State zone and Primeau scored her fifth goal of the season to put Syracuse up 3-1 with 12 minutes left in the second period.
“We cashed in on our good chances,” head coach Paul Flanagan said. “I really think that our execution offensively finally came through for us.”
With four minutes left in the period, the Syracuse defense prevented Penn State from closing the gap before the second period ended with strong defensive stands, even when it was down to four players versus five in a power-play situation.
Penn State had two quick shots in a row, but DeSmet saved them both. She used her right hand to deflect the first one and after it flew out to her left side, and she bounced off the ground and shifted to the right to block the next shot with her body.
DeSmet earned 50 saves, a new career high. The senior goaltender quietly held the high-powered Penn State offense in check in a game that featured a high-powered game from Syracuse offensively.
Syracuse iced the game when Marchand scored a goal four minutes into the third period. Penn State attempted to mount its comeback, scoring two goals to get as close as 5-3. But in the waning seconds of the game, Klimek sealed her hat trick, tapping in an empty-net goal.
“It was a coordinated effort for sure,” Flanagan said. “Getting the two points at home was critical.”
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