Syracuse offense rescues freshman goalkeeper Asa Goldstock in last-minute, 13-12 win over Albany
Ally Moreo | Photo Editor
Asa Goldstock thought Taylor Gait was open. With just over four minutes left in the game, and the score stuck at 11-11, Goldstock came out of her crease and crept toward to the 25-yard line and scanned the field for options. Gait called for the ball ahead seven yards on her right. Goldstock lofted a weak ball in Gait’s direction when Albany attacker Dakotah Savitcheff sprinted in.
Savitcheff collided with Gait and the ball fell. Gait stood stunned as Savitcheff scooped the ground ball and raced toward a backtracking Goldstock. The goalie attempted to make one defensive move, but Savitcheff just sent a low shot over her stick for the empty net goal, and Albany’s first lead of the game.
“How easy was that?” Albany head coach John Battaglino said. “How easy was that?”
The error led to a 12-11 Great Danes lead and nearly cost Syracuse the game, but the Orange wrested back control with two lead changes in the final four-and-a-half minutes. No. 4 SU (5-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast) outlasted Albany (2-2), 13-12, on Monday night. Goldstock saved a season-low 40 percent of the shots she saw. Things won’t get easier because SU’s next game comes against its first ranked opponent in No. 11 Northwestern.
“Their offense was executing very well,” Syracuse head coach Gary Gait said. “They got great scoring opportunities from the inside … They were well prepared.”
Goldstock started strong, shaking off an Albany goal just under six minutes in to save the next three balls shot at her. She made acrobatic stops, including a post-to-post dive to stonewall a bottom right corner shot from Emma Powlin.
Syracuse went into the break leading 7-4 because of Goldstock’s three first-half saves, though soon she would struggle through the second frame.
Just 38 seconds after halftime, Sam Tortora beat her defender, sprinted across the cage and tucked the ball in under Goldstock’s glove. Just over three minutes later, Powlin beat Goldstock for another unassisted goal and though Syracuse answered twice to maintain a three-goal lead, it was then that Goldstock completely broke down.
In a five-minute stretch, starting at 18:52, Goldstock allowed four goals. Kenzie Neal scored the first of those four. The senior attacker bull-rushed the goal. Goldstock hit a driving Neal on the head with her stick, but Neal powered through the contact and snuck the ball in the top right corner of the net.
“It’s all about forgetting the last play,” Goldstock said. “Forgetting the mistakes and moving forward.”
But you can’t forget mistakes that keep happening. Two minutes later, Goldstock bit on a Kaylee Rickert fake and the Great Dane midfielder bounced a ball through Goldstock’s legs to tie the game at nine and become the sixth different Albany player to score.
For the next 10 minutes, the two teams traded blows until Goldstock made her biggest error with four minutes to go.
Racing out to the midfield is something Goldstock said she does every game. Sometimes it works, other times not as much. On Monday came the latter and it resulted in an empty-net goal that nearly cost Syracuse the game.
“It was honestly pretty terrifying,” Savitcheff said. “There was a lot of pressure to score on that.”
Luckily for Goldstock, her teammates responded and Nicole Levy notched her sixth goal on a free-position shot, something Goldstock only faced one time as compared to Albany, who suffered through 15.
“It was relieving,” Goldstock said of Levy’s goal that tied the game at 12. “I knew Nicole was gonna finish or some attacker was gonna finish.”
Goldstock needed to keep the score level, and she faced her most important test with 41 seconds left. Albany attackers swarmed the cage and Emily Mizer launched a low ball for the left side of the cage from outside. Goldstock immediately dropped to one knee and pinned the ball against herself before scooping it for the outlet pass.
Goldstock allowed 12 goals and collected only eight saves, but she also had the most important one of her young career.
When SU called a timeout eight seconds later, the entire team paraded over to Goldstock. Taylor Gait patted her helmet. Neither player nor coach remembered the exact wording of what Gait said, but Goldstock had an idea.
“He probably said, ‘You finally made a save,’” Goldstock said, “‘so good job.’”
Published on February 27, 2017 at 10:02 pm
Contact Matt: firstname.lastname@example.org