Halle Majorana propels Syracuse to 12-11 overtime win against USC in NCAA quarterfinal
Courtesy of Syracuse athletic communications
Syracuse’s Halle Majorana was parallel with the Southern California goal on the left side of the field. It’s at that spot on the field that she had already racked up five points with a barrage of goals and assists in the second half.
With time winding down in the first overtime period, Kelly Cross cut across down the middle of the field. Majorana lofted the pass to her and she slammed it in past goalie Gussie Johns. Syracuse had won the game, 12-11, with 21.2 seconds left in overtime.
“Me and Kelly (Cross) definitely have a great connection,” Majorana said. “My eyes kind of lit up when I saw her and I knew she was gonna catch the ball and bury it.
“I don’t really remember the play,” she said laughing, “but I remember Kelly (Cross) being open and just giving her the ball.”
No. 4 seed Syracuse (19-5, 5-2 Atlantic Coast) struggled to get any offense going in the first half and then blew a three-goal second-half lead. But the Orange caused a turnover after No. 5 seed USC (20-1, 6-0 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) won the opening draw and won the game in overtime, 12-11 to advance to the Final Four for the fifth consecutive season. SU will play the winner of Maryland and Massachusetts.
USC entered the game with the top-rated defense in the country, allowing just 5.5 goals per game. Last week, SU beat Stony Brook, which had the second best defense, 7-6. Kayla Treanor, the Orange’s points leader, was face-guarded for most of that matchup, and the SU offense struggled because of it.
“We’ve been playing a zone defense and we haven’t face-guarded yet,” USC head coach Lindsey Munday said. “(Face-guarding Treanor) was a thought, but it just opens up more space for the other players.”
After the first half ended in a 5-5 deadlock, the Trojans opened up the second half with two quick goals to take a 7-5 lead. But then the Orange went on a 4-1 run to take a 9-8 lead. Majorana either scored or assisted on each of those four goals, each time setting up on that same spot on the left-hand side of the field at goal-line extended.
After a first half in which she recorded just one point — a transition goal after a yellow card on the Trojans — Majorana came to life in the second.
“I just thought more to dodge,” Majorana said. “I wasn’t dodging in the first half. I thought if I could get a first step, cutters would be open in the middle and that’s what gave me success today.”
Syracuse eventually scored two more goals — both from Treanor — and then a Trojan score made it 11-9 with 5:54 to go. Three weeks ago, the Orange blew a two-goal lead with 5:27 left in the ACC championship game against then-No. 3 North Carolina.
And this time, chaos ensued for SU. Treanor won the following draw and USC’s Kaitlyn Couture got a yellow card. But SU turned the ball over and gave up a goal to make it 11-10. Then, Nicole Levy was penalized for an illegal stick that gave the Trojans control on the restart. Cynthia Del Core scored a minute and a half later to tie the game up.
Syracuse nearly lost the game with 1:53 left in regulation after the Trojans had tied it. USC won the draw and ran the clock down. Amanda Johansen, who had tallied four goals and two assists, tried to score with 10 seconds left, but goalie Allie Murray made a save to send the game to overtime.
“I knew she was coming out but I didn’t have enough time to get around,” Johansen said. “I knew it was coming, you just try and make a move last second to get around her.”
The Trojans again had a chance to win the game in overtime after Michaela Michael won the draw. But SU defender Mallory Vehar forced USC’s Kylie Drexel to turn the ball over and SU had life once more.
After the SU clear, the ball found its way to Majorana, at the same spot that she’d helped push the Orange ahead earlier in the game. After drawing a double team and dishing to the open Cross who scored, Majorana made sure Syracuse would stay in front for good.
“I was just doing anything I could to help my team win today,” Majorana said.
Published on May 21, 2016 at 5:43 pm