Syracuse defense smothers Cornell, shuts down potent Big Red offense

first_img Published on April 17, 2013 at 12:25 am Contact Phil: [email protected] | @PhilDAbb Alyssa Murray wouldn’t back off. The official had to motion more than twice for Murray to take a step back and give Cat Thomas room for the restart by Cornell’s sideline, not far from the Big Red’s cage.After Murray obliged, the whistle blew and the Syracuse attack mobbed Thomas. Murray knocked the ball on the ground, picked it up and three quick passes later, the Orange capitalized on the takeaway with a goal.“I think we were just really focused on stepping up our ride again,” Murray said. “It’s consistently gotten better throughout the season. And just as a team, we’re really doing well getting caused turnovers and being all over the ground balls.”The Big Red committed 25 turnovers and could barely breathe against Syracuse’s suffocating defense as the No. 5 Orange (10-3, 5-0 Big East) prevailed 16-4 at the Carrier Dome on Tuesday afternoon. Cornell (7-5, 3-3 Ivy) struggled against SU’s high pressure, converting on just 59 percent of its clear attempts, well below the Big Red’s previous season average of 79.5 percent.Syracuse subdued a Cornell offense that ranked best in the Ivy League with 12.5 goals per game, and cut the Big Red’s season average of 26.2 shots per game in half.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe Orange’s stifling ride established the tone in the game’s opening minutes. Six minutes passed before Cornell finally brought the ball past midfield, which came after the Orange had foiled the Big Red’s first three clear attempts and jumped out to a 3-0 lead.And just as Cornell registered its first clear, Syracuse’s Kasey Mock picked off Amanda D’Amico’s pass before the Big Red could even set up its offense.“We talked about – we always talk about – the first five minutes of the game, making a statement by your effort level, by your execution and hustle,” Syracuse head coach Gary Gait said, “and our team’s been focused lately, and ready for those first five minutes. That’s what we hope we get every game out of them.”Just more than two minutes after Mock’s interception, she forced another turnover, this time near the Orange’s net. Becca Block scooped up the ground ball and the speedy defender was gone.Block led the transition opportunity past midfield, then dished to Murray who fed Katie Webster for a score and a 4-0 SU lead 10 minutes into the game. From there, the Orange took off.“I thought that the ladies stepped up, played a very nice game, especially on the defensive end,” Gait said. “Riding extremely well, causing multiple turnovers and multiple opportunities for the offense … The defense, they were solid today.”Murray caused a career-high four turnovers, all in the first half. By comparison, the junior only racked up six total in each of her first two seasons with the Orange. Murray said the Cornell defenders were rattled by SU’s ride and became nervous when handling the ball, falling even further into Syracuse’s pressure.“Sometimes, if you get a couple of caused turnovers off the ride, you just feed off of that and want more and more,” Murray said.The Orange’s defense, Gait said, was the more dominant unit in the blowout. Fifteen turnovers by Cornell and just four shot attempts in the first half helped Syracuse build a 9-2 lead going into the break.SU’s defense was nearly flawless in its sliding and rotating, collapsing hard in the middle and closing any potential openings. The Big Red didn’t fire a shot on goal until almost 12 minutes in, and didn’t find the back of the net for another five and a half minutes.The strong defensive effort, which led to the Orange’s fewest goals allowed in more than a month, never gave the Big Red a chance to upset its Central New York rival.“I mean, when they score four goals, you know you did something right, I guess,” Block said with a laugh. “I think it really started with our attack on the ride, because they didn’t have that many opportunities and we just set the tone early.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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