Madison, Wis. – The Syracuse women’s hockey season came to an end with a 4-0 loss to No.1 Wisconsin on Saturday.
The Orange had something of a miracle run to close their season and earned their first College Hockey America conference tournament title and first NCAA berth, but for its efforts it received a return trip to Madison to face the top team in the country.
After having lost to Wisconsin in early December 6-1 and 9-1, Syracuse coach Paul Flanagan focused on slowing the game down and worked to try to prevent the Badgers from getting to the front of the net. The Orange finished the game with 21 blocks, and junior Ady Cohen made a career-high 43 saves.
“I’m proud of our team. I’m proud of the way they prepared,” Flanagan said. “We knew this was a tall order. I thought our kids did a real good job. We really dug down deep and played with a lot of heart. There was never any giving up from our team.”
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The Orange kept the game close in the first period, holding the Badgers scoreless despite being out-shot 14-4. But Syracuse struggled to put sustained pressure on the Badgers defense. They ended the game with just 15 shots on goal, and no player with more than two shots. It was the Orange’s third-lowest shot total of the season – the other two also came against Wisconsin.
“We knew we weren’t going to get a lot of chances,” said Flanagan. “I looked at the attempted shots and it’s pretty scary.”
Syracuse had just 29 shot attempts but had a number of chances, especially early on, to find the back of the net. Freshman Abby Moloughney had a breakaway that was stopped by Wisconsin goalie Kristen Campbell, and senior Brooke Avery had a couple of solid chances to score. If any of those found the back of the net, it could have changed the course of the game.
Instead, Wisconsin pulled away in the second period thanks to two goals from Patty Kazmaier Award top-three finalist senior Annie Pankowski. Two more goals in the third period put the game out of reach for the Orange, who end the season with a 13-22-3 record.
Despite the disappointing result, there were plenty of positives for Flanagan and the team to take from the season.
“(They) could have imploded a while ago and they didn’t,” said Flanagan. “When we had that long losing streak or we had some real disappointing losses, these kids, they stuck together. … I’d like to think our underclassmen now have got a taste of it. Now they know what it takes to get here. Now we have to figure out what it takes to move on.”