Syracuse gives it all in 1-0 loss to RMU in CHA Championship

Syracuse gives it all in 1-0 loss to RMU in CHA Championship

Senior goaltender Allison Small closes her collegiate career with a 34-save game, but it wasn't enough to get past Robert Morris one last time.
Published: March 6, 2021
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Allison Small stands in the Syracuse crease during a game against Lindenwood in the CHA Tournament. The Orange made it to the championship but lost to RMU 1-0.

Syracuse beat out Lindenwood and Penn State to make it to the 2021 CHA Championship game on Saturday but were unable to surpass Robert Morris University, falling to the Colonials 1-0.

Both teams got here without a bye and played three days in a row to get to this point. Syracuse looked strong offensively right off the bat as Mae Batherson got the first shot off for Syracuse within the first few seconds of the first period that was stopped by Raygan Kirk.

Shortly after, Tatum White saw an open spot from the far side and got a quick shot off but that was stopped by Kirk yet again.

Spending a lot of time in the RMU zone, Rayla Clemons passed one back out to White who was right there in front of the net, saw her chance and rocked Kirk a bit with her shot but it didn’t go.

The Colonials’ Emily Curlett whipped a shot from behind the circle toward the net, but it was easily stopped by Allison Small. However, Maggy Burbidge launched a shot a minute and a half later following a turnover by the Orange that was initially pushed away by Small but was not far enough out of reach. Gillian Thompson was right there to put it home behind Small who didn’t have enough time to react and cover the open side of the net. Joelle Fiala logged the secondary assist on the first goal of the game that put RMU up 1-0 in the opening frame.

Back-to-back calls landed both Kyleigh Hanzlik and Jessica DiGirolamo in the penalty box for two apiece but both netminders successfully killed the penalties and play was back to full strength.

The Orange was unable to do much offensively in the first frame. Syracuse could not get many shots off as Sarah Thompson, White, DiGirolamo, Anna Leschyshyn and Lauren Bellefontaine were the only ones to have shots on goal. RMU had many solid chances following SU’s strong start and Small was tested a lot in the first but she stood tall and blocked all but one of the Colonials’ 16 shots on goal and 23 shot attempts.

Victoria Klimek blasted a shot from right in front of the blue line with 20 seconds remaining in the first stanza but Kirk did not let the puck through, and they went into the locker room down 1-0 after 20 minutes.

The beginning of the second period did not see much of a difference from the majority of the first as both teams spent most of the time in Syracuse’s zone. However, that quickly changed as Klimek raced down the ice on a 2-on-2, but the shot went wide on short side. Klimek’s attempt seemed to incite Syracuse as Leschyshyn’s breakout play ended in a decent shot that sent Kirk sprawling outside of the confines of her box to ensure Leschyshyn did not have the opportunity to get the rebound.

Emma Polaski went to the box on a bodycheck call alongside Hanzlik for unsportsmanlike conduct, leading to the second 4-on-4 situation of the game.

Syracuse looked to have a bit more pep in their step and were able to put on more pressure in both ends than they did in the first. Already at nine shots on goal less than halfway through the second, Bellefontaine helped out by pinging one off the post while DiGirolamo wanted a chance herself, but Kirk was able to get a pad out for that one.

After both teams successfully killed the twin penalties, Batherson had a chance in front of the net but bobbled the puck and was unable to produce the amount of power needed behind the shot and saw an easy stop from Kirk.

Hanzlik landed herself in the penalty box once again, this time sitting for slashing, and the Orange were on the power play. During the one-player advantage, Syracuse’s tic-tac-toe maneuver almost gave ‘Cuse a tie game as DiGirolamo was in perfect position on the left side but couldn’t get a solid stick on it and the opportunity was lost. RMU successfully killed the penalty and that brought both teams to the end of the second period with the Colonials still up by one.

The stat sheet supported Syracuse’s redemption in the second stanza as the Orange topped RMU in shot attempts, 45-42, and barely trailed the Colonials in shots on goal, 27-26.

Syracuse had 20 minutes left to get themselves on the board, but it was a slow start, and a slow period overall, for both teams as neither team saw much action from either side.

Abby Moloughney on a one on two charged up the outside and got a quick shot off but Kirk was right there to bring it to a halt. After spending a decent amount of time in the RMU zone, White launched one wide to try and get something going for the Orange.

Polaski pushed over a pass to Thompson who had a great chance and even had Kirk beat on the right side but couldn’t control the puck quick enough to be able to get it off in time and Kirk guided it away, keeping the score at 1-0, RMU.

As the clock ticked down in regulation, Small left the ice so an extra skater could try and be a difference-maker for Syracuse in the final minutes.

DiGirolamo rocketed a shot through traffic that hit Kirk’s shoulder and didn’t go any further than that. A deliberate hand pass by the Orange put the faceoff in the Syracuse zone and Small came back in to briefly protect the net.

Syracuse won the draw but RMU’s defense was too strong as both DiGirolamo and Moloughney’s last ditch efforts were rejected, and the Colonials won 1-0.

Despite falling to RMU, Syracuse ended on a high note, topping the Colonials in both shot attempts and shots on goal 66-53 and 36-35 respectively.

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is a magazine, news and online graduate student and sports lead producer for The NewsHouse.