Firenze scores game-winning goal in final minute of regulation to propel Syracuse over Connecticut

first_imgWith the score tied with less than a minute remaining in regulation, a pass from Taylor Haenlin fell on the right foot of Syracuse forward Jackie Firenze. Firenze, positioned on the left end line, turned toward the goal, split two defenders and sent a shot on net.Syracuse players and fans erupted as the ball trickled through the Connecticut goalkeeper’s legs.“We’re going to fight to the end,” Firenze said. “And that’s exactly what we did. Our team motto is, ‘Whatever it takes,’ so there it is right there.”SU (4-3-1, 1-0 Big East) erased a two of one-goal deficits in its conference opener with a 3-2 win over the Huskies (4-3-1, 0-1) Thursday night at SU Soccer Stadium in front of 341 fans. UConn held the lead twice in the game, but each time, SU responded to tie the score. Syracuse stayed determined, and its resilience paid off in arguably the program’s biggest victory.Syracuse trailed early, as Connecticut forward Danielle Schulmann scored 56 seconds in.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“We knew how they were going to play,” SU head coach Phil Wheddon said. “We were chasing the game from then on, but credit to our players, they fought like crazy.”Forwards Alexis Koval, Erin Simon and Hannah Strong repeatedly found quality scoring opportunities. The trio attacked the net with midfielders Alyscha Mottershead and Rosina Callisto joining the rush.Sixteen minutes in, Koval collided with Connecticut goalkeeper Allison Saucier. Saucier went down with an apparent head injury and was taken off the field on a stretcher. Junior Leigh-Ann Jaggon came on as a replacement after a 25-minute delay.The stoppage let the Orange’s players refresh their legs, and when play resumed, they kept attacking. Defender Jackie Moriarty sent two passes that Mottershead headed into Jaggon’s awaiting hands. A potential Erin Simon goal was disallowed as she collided with Jaggon.Syracuse had five more shots than Connecticut at the half (12-7), but the Huskies still had a one-goal lead.Syracuse avoided a trend it’s fallen into several times this season, where it outshoots opponents, controls the pace of the game, but fails to translate scoring opportunities into goals.Seventeen minutes into the second half, Koval found space in the Huskies defensive zone and crossed a pass that sailed onto the head of Mottershead, who directed it past Jaggon.The Huskies quickly showed why they are one of the nation’s top teams, and answered right back. Eighteen seconds after Motterhead’s goal, Connecticut midfielder Miranda Tarpey scored to regain the lead.But the goal didn’t faze the Orange. Syracuse continued with strong ball possession and kept working to find good scoring chances.With 12 minutes remaining in the game, Callisto sent a towering shot from outside the box that grazed the crossbar and bounced down into the goal. The Orange tied the game once again.Wheddon knew his team would continue its attack.So with 30 seconds remaining, Haenlin found Firenze who converted from the left side of the field to send Syracuse to the win.“I knew we were short on time, but I didn’t know it was under, what, 30 seconds?” Firenze said. “But it was a whole team effort and if we didn’t score the first two then [the] last one wouldn’t have mattered.”SU’s victory came at a perfect time as the team enters Big East play. Many players played their best games of the season.Syracuse put its resiliency on display, and took down UConn.“We have a lot of discipline and we showed it,” Callisto said. “Getting scored on that early in the game…it was hard for us to come back. But everyone stayed focused and we were able to do it.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on September 14, 2012 at 1:39 am Contact Josh: [email protected]center_img Related Stories Syracuse beats Connecticut for 1st time in 18 all-time meetingslast_img

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