In back-to-back games, goalie Asa Goldstock holds top 5 team to 6 goals

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Heading into the matchup against Stony Brook, goalie Asa Goldstock was still getting used to a new stick. She made the switch earlier in the week and spent part of her practice time simply trying to hit a garbage can 10 yards in front of her. Before Saturday’s game, she told herself that she was only going to make short passes.

However, when the Stony Brook started to press Goldstock in the second half to try and erase a nine-goal deficit, she had to improvise.

After making a save, the Seawolves put a midfielder on Goldstock, who was looking for passing options. It seemed as if Stony Brook’s plan for trapping Goldstock was working, but she pulled a move that’s normally used only inside of the eight-meter — she threw the ball behind her back into the stick of Ella Simkins and jump-started the Syracuse offense. One possession later, Sam Swart tied her career high with her fourth goal of the game.

“That was just a hail mary pass for me there, but somehow, someway my stick was working for me,” Goldstock said.

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The story of SU’s game against Stony Brook revolved around an offense that was still dominating despite the absence of captain Emily Hawryschuk. But, with Hawryschuk off the field, Goldstock shined, leading a Syracuse defense which only allowed six goals from the fifth best team in the nation. No. 2 Syracuse’s (2-0) strong defense was a catalyst to the offense in a 18-6 win over No. 5 Stony Brook (2-2).

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Last season, the Orange’s only loss was a close, 17-16 loss against Stony Brook. SU utilized a man-to-man defense then, but head coach Gary Gait said the team decided to change its strategy this time. The Orange used their “bread and butter” zone defense, Gait said.

“Defensively we know we’re a very strong group, so we make it a goal that they have to change their offense for our defense,” Goldstock said.

The Orange were able to pressure the Seawolves early Saturday, but this strategy led to scrappy play from the Orange and constant penalties leading to free position shots. Syracuse had 15 fouls in the first 15 minutes of the game, including a yellow card given to defender Sarah Cooper.

But, even with opportunities from the free-position, Goldstock would make a save, or SU’s defense would press on the person shooting the ball. When the Seawolves would try to make a pass on a free-position shot, the Orange already had two defenders nearby and they were able to stop them. On nine attempts, the Seawolves didn’t make a single free-position goal.

This ability to have constant pressure and force the opposing offense to make bad decisions comes from the defense trying to “create a lot of chaos”, Goldstock said. The Orange and Seawolves ended with 14 turnovers apiece. Cooper led Syracuse with three caused turnovers and Kerry Defliese recorded two.

While this was a decrease from 15 caused turnovers in its last game against Loyola, Gait said that the overall success of the Syracuse defense comes from its teamwork, which hasn’t missed a beat since last season.

“We held them to six goals, which is, for a top five team, a solid effort by our defense,” Gait said. “They all just dialed in and put the pressure on as one cohesive unit.”

But with eight minutes left in the second half, Syracuse’s zone defense started to falter in the middle, and Stony Brook was able to get two goals within a minute of each other. The Orange were making sure to “play all over the field,” Goldstock said, and the Seawolves didn’t score again.

Earlier in the half, Goldstock had abandoned her spot in goal, seeing Stony Brook pass fly high and to her left. She extended her stick out and caught the ball above her head.

“In a zone you need to play your space, you need to play with a team mentality down there,” Goldstock said. “Defensively, individual play just contributes to the unit down there. We are clicking back in this 2021 season.”

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