WLAX : Orange searching for offensive firepower heading into NCAA tournament

first_imgMichelle Tumolo found the silver lining in Syracuse’s disappointing loss to then-No. 10 Loyola (Md.).The Orange entered the Big East championship game riding a program-best 15-game winning streak. They cruised through conference play undefeated and rose as high as No. 2 in the nation.But against the underdog Greyhounds in the Carrier Dome last Saturday, the top-seeded Orange got smacked. Loyola opened up a four-goal halftime lead with six consecutive scores on the way to a 13-7 rout.The loss was SU’s first since Feb. 29.‘Better now than later, right?’ Tumolo said. ‘We still need to keep our heads up and go into the (NCAA) tournament with a little chip on our shoulder.’The Orange (16-3, 8-0 Big East) is the No. 4 overall seed in the NCAA tournament and will host Dartmouth (12-4, 5-2 Ivy League) Sunday at 4 p.m. in the Carrier Dome in the first round. On April 9, Syracuse thrashed the then-No. 6 Big Green 22-4 in arguably its best game of the season.A top-four seed for the first time in history, SU has the opportunity to play at home until the final four. If the Orange beats Dartmouth, it will earn a spot in the quarterfinals, matching up with the winner of the game between No. 5 seed North Carolina and Navy.‘The goal for this team was to be a top-four seed, which we did, and get two potential home games,’ SU head coach Gary Gait said. ‘So that’s what we’re excited about. We reached our goal.’But to take the next step in the team’s ultimate goal of becoming national champions, the Syracuse offense will need to find its firepower again. The Orange averaged more than 15 goals per game heading into Saturday’s contest against Loyola, but the team scored just seven goals in the loss.Gait said after the loss that Greyhounds goaltender Kerry Stoothoff was ‘in the heads’ of his players, and attacks Tumolo and Alyssa Murray echoed that sentiment after practice Monday.Stoothoff turned away 16 of 29 SU attempts in the Orange’s 13-12 victory over Loyola during the regular season. And just eight days later, she made a slew of impressive saves in the championship game, finishing with 11.‘We haven’t been really gelling lately, so we’ve got to get out of that funk,’ Tumolo said. ‘Hopefully, it was just a one-game thing, and we’ll get back. Every team has that time, so hopefully, we’ll get over it.’SU torched Dartmouth goalie Kristen Giovanniello for 17 goals in just more than 45 minutes earlier this season, which Gait said should help raise the offense’s confidence.But relying on that prior success would also be foolish. The Orange chalked up 22 goals against Georgetown on April 14 but managed only seven in the Big East tournament semifinals.With a full week of practice, the SU attack looks to find its rhythm again, and Murray said she already saw improvement Monday during the team’s first practice since losing to Loyola.‘I think we played really well as an offense,’ Murray said. ‘We did a lot of 7-v-6 type situations. Our effort level is way up. Everyone is really focused on Dartmouth right now, and we’re just ready to play.’On Sunday, the Orange will look to turn the silver lining into success. Syracuse hopes to use the Loyola loss as a learning experience, but the team also knows that starting Sunday, one more would spell the end of Syracuse’s season.‘I think we’re in a good spot,’ Murray said. ‘We’ve just got to beat every team that comes our way. We want to win the last game of the season, and that starts on Sunday.’[email protected] Published on May 8, 2012 at 12:00 pm Contact Stephen: [email protected] | @Stephen_Bailey1 Commentscenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img


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