HAMDEN, Conn. — When Syracuse defeated Quinnipiac 3-2 on Saturday night, it marked the first win for Syracuse in its last nine games.
The last time the Orange saw a mark in the win column was Dec. 2 against Lindenwood, a game that Syracuse needed overtime for to win.
Kallie Billadeau led the way for Syracuse over QU, stopping 53 shots.
“[Quinnipiac] puts a lot of shots on net,” Billadeau said. “They shoot from pretty much everywhere, so I knew I just needed to be focused throughout the game, and it worked out.”
Orange head coach Paul Flanagan wasn’t surprised with the solid play of Billadeau.
“A lot of those saves, I thought she made it look easy,” Flanagan said. “She was just positional in a good spot and she made a lot of blocker saves.”
Syracuse took the 1-0 lead 13:40 into the first period on Margot Scharfe’s tenth goal of the season. Scharfe gained the line on the left wing on a two-on-one rush. Scharfe never even looked to pass as she wristed the puck on Quinnipiac goalie Victoria Vigilanti inside the left circle. The rebound jumped back onto the stick of Scharfe and she poked the puck over the diving attempt from Vigilanti.
The Bobcats tied it up just 1:19 later on a power-play goal from Breann Frykas. Regan Boulton’s drive from the center point deflected off Billadeau’s pads and into the slot. Frykas pounced on the rebound and buried the puck on the vacant right side of the net.
Syracuse took the 2-1 lead with 2:43 left in the first on Caitlin Roach’s second of the season. Roach skated in on the left-wing side and ripped a shot from the far-side half boards. The puck sailed over the shoulder of Vigilanti and ended her night between the pipes.
Quinnipiac coach Rick Seeley wasted no time pulling Vigilanti in favor of freshman Chelsea Laden, Friday night’s starter.
“We need to figure out our goaltending down the stretch,” Seeley said. “As of right now Laden’s won the starting job.”
With just a few minutes remaining in the first period, there wasn’t a clear response by the Bobcats after replacing goaltenders. That changed come the second period.
Quinnipiac dominated play throughout the first ten minutes of the middle period. The Bobcats’ hard work and forechecking eventually led to a much-needed goal.
Jordan Elkins fed the puck to Melissa Perry at the left point. With a tired Syracuse defense in front of the net, Perry took a slap shot from the left circle. Billadeau made the initial save, but the rebound found Brittany Lyons on the right side of the net. Lyons wasted no time slamming home the rebound to tie the score at 2-2.
Bethany Dymarczyk could have taken the lead for the Bobcats if not for a breathtaking kick save from Billadeau. Following the Lyons goal, QU continued their dominance and cycling. The puck made its way to Dymarczyk at the point where she fired a slap shot that weaved through traffic. Billadeau dropped to the split and stuck out her left leg to deflect the puck to the corner.
Syracuse evened play for the rest of the period and finally took the lead back 11:22 into the third period. Once again, a two-on-one resulted in an Orange goal, but this time the pass turned out to be the right option.
The Orange gained control of the puck just outside their offensive end with Holly Carrie-Mattimoe taking charge. With Nicole Ferrara streaking in on the right side, Carrie-Mattimoe made the smart move to sweep the puck to the right wing where Ferrara rifled it past the diving attempt from Laden.
“We haven’t made a two-one-one, counting our practices, in over a month,” Flanagan said with a chuckle. “Our whole bench was hooting and hollering because they knew that we haven’t been executing on those plays.”
The Bobcats were not short of chances in the final minute after Taylor Metcalfe took a cross-checking call with 50 seconds to play.
“You knew with about three minutes to play it was going to come down to that,” Billadeau said with a grin. “It’s fun. The girls sacrificed their bodies for me, blocked shots, picked up sticks; it’s really all I can ask for. They played really great for me.”
Quinnipiac’s best chance came off the stick of Boulton at the point. Billadeau stopped the initial shot, but the rebound rocketed off her pads and just under the stick of Kelly Babstock at the left post.
Tonight’s game was the final non-conference game of the season for both teams.