Orange loses to top attack unit in college lacrosse
The Syracuse women’s lacrosse team shouldn’t feel too bad. It’s likely Virginia’s Amy Appelt, Cary Chasney and Tyler Leachman will give many teams nightmares this season.
The Cavaliers’ veteran attack, arguably the best in the nation, manhandled the young SU defense as No. 1 Virginia blitzed No. 12 Syracuse, 15-7, on Saturday at the Carrier Dome.
UVA prevented falling to a lower-ranked SU team for the fourth straight year. For the first 20 minutes, the game appeared to be another close contest in a developing rivalry, but UVA (1-0) broke open a 2-2 game with six goals in the next five minutes. SU (2-1) never got within five goals the rest of the way.
Appelt, the 2004 Tewaaraton Trophy winner as a junior, scored eight points on three goals and five assists. Leachman, a junior, scored five goals. Chasney, also a junior, pitched in a goal and two assists in her first action since suffering a season-ending injury against SU a year ago.
The Orange had no answer for the trio.
‘They’ve got a ton of experience, and they showed it today,’ said SU head coach Lisa Miller. ‘And we showed our inexperience.’
Senior Monica Joines led the Orange with two goals and an assist. By the time SU found a semblance of an offensive rhythm in the second half, the game was out of reach.
SU entered the contest seeking to control possession time to limit Virginia’s opportunities. But the Orange lost the majority of draw controls and committed countless turnovers trying to break Virginia’s pressure at midfield.
Failure to control the ball placed pressure squarely on the Orange defense, composed entirely of sophomores and freshmen. After dominating performances against lowly Albany and Binghamton, the unit had trouble reacting to a fluent UVA attack in midseason form. The Cavaliers scored often on set plays as a result of crisp, quick passes.
‘We just didn’t stand up the cutters well enough, that’s it,’ said Melissa Pearsall, a defensive midfielder.
On one occasion in the second half, a cutting Leachman received a pass from Appelt and took a shot all in one motion. The ensuing goal was reminiscent of a deflection that finds the net in hockey.
Less than a minute later, Appelt found Leachman cutting again, and she fired a shot in the net so quickly that players on the field looked around wondering what happened. Noticing the ball trickling at her feet, SU goalie Jen Kasel pounced on it. Finally, though, the referees signaled a goal.
‘We did a good job of catching them off guard,’ Leachman said. ‘We’ve played together for a long time and we know each other pretty well.’
Experience was exactly what Appelt predicted last Thursday would be the difference in this year’s game against SU. Appelt said the difficulty Virginia had with the Orange in the past was simply due to opening-game kinks. With most starters returning from a national championship squad, though, UVA teammates didn’t need to acquaint themselves with each other on Saturday.
That familiarity bred UVA’s offensive continuity. This season, SU’s defense wasn’t all on the same page.
‘They kept sneaking in behind us,’ Miller said.
The outcome could have been a lot worse for SU if not for Kasel’s strong play in net. At times throughout the game, Kasel single-handedly was the Orange’s defense, steering aside many point-blank shots. Largely thanks to her efforts, the Cavaliers were only 2-for-9 on free position shots.
SU, meanwhile, didn’t have a single free position attempt. Miller showed frustration during the game with the referees – while SU was whistled for 12 fouls, Virginia wasn’t called for any. Miller said afterward there was some inconsistency with the officiating, but acknowledged the gray areas of the rulebook make it tough to call the game objectively.
But she knows officiating would not have changed the outcome of the game. At least at this point in the season, SU’s young defense was not equipped to handle Appelt, Chasney, Leachman and the rest of UVA’s vaunted offense.
With the victory came an end to three years of aggravation UVA felt toward SU.
‘I think the Virginia seniors really wanted that game,’ Miller said. ‘When we tied it at 2-2, they said, ‘Uh-uh, we’re not letting this one get away from us.”
No. 1 Virginia 15
No. 12 Syracuse 7
1 2 F
No. 1 UVA 8 7 15
No. 12 SU 3 4 7
G A P
Appelt 3 5 8
Leachman 5 0 5
Chasney 1 4 5
Breslin 2 0 2
Havrilla 1 0 1
Lieb 1 0 1
Haas 1 0 1
Connors 1 0 1
GA Shots Saves
Miles 7 15 10
G A P
Joines 2 1 3
Dragon 2 0 2
Fortune 2 0 2
DePetris 1 0 1
GA Shots Saves
Kasel 15 32 11
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