first_imgIt took Syracuse almost two periods to shake off the playoff nerves.But once the Orange got one goal, its offensive brigade kicked into gear.Four different players scored as Syracuse (19-13-3, 9-8-3 College Hockey America) pulled away from Lindenwood (5-25-3, 5-13-2) late to win 4-1 and take a one-game lead in the best-of-three playoff series.“Everyone’s nervous, but I think after the first period we got the nerves out,” sophomore Nicole Renault said. “We were able to play our game, and obviously it was better than theirs today.”The only action of the first period came after Lindenwood goalkeeper Nicole Hensley made a sprawling save off of a Syracuse deflection in front of the net.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textBoth sides combined for only 13 shots in a period where neither team was able to muster any offensive threat.“I thought we had a little bit of a slow start in the first period,” SU head coach Paul Flanagan said. “It was kind of teams feeling each other out even though we’ve played four times this year.”It wasn’t until the 2:37 mark of the second period when freshman Heather Schwarz scored her first goal in more than two months to put the Orange ahead 1-0.Renault skated down the left side and after cutting to the middle, she slotted a pass across her body to Schwarz. The freshman one-timed the puck from almost an impossible angle into the bottom right corner for her second goal of the year.The Orange widened its lead three minutes into the third period when junior Allie LaCombe found herself in open space at the right circle.After receiving a pass from senior Caitlin Roach, LaCombe calmly slotted the puck into a wide-open right side of the net to put SU ahead 2-0.“I saw (Roach) take the puck to the red line, and I just busted my butt to the net,” LaCombe said. “She passed it over through the defender’s stick, and I happened to bury it.”Before the public address announcer could even finish relaying the scoring information from LaCombe’s goal, the Orange scored its third.It only took 27 seconds for Syracuse to virtually seal the game, as Renault scored her seventh of the season.She corralled the puck just in front of the blue line and slid a shot on the ice toward goal. It somehow evaded the entire cluster in front of the net and found the bottom right corner to put the hosts up 3-0.But Renault was hesitant to take full credit for her impressive goal.“I think Julie Knerr might’ve tipped it in,” Renault said. “They were a really good team at blocking shots, so getting it through was huge.“Either way, a goal is a goal.”With 5:32 left, freshman Jessica Sibley joined the party with an impressive shot.She burst down the right side, cut across the middle, and wristed a shot across her body. It flew just past Hensley’s outstretched glove and into the top right corner.After the majority of the first two periods provided little spark, LaCombe had a simple explanation for the Orange’s third period fireworks.“I mean it’s the playoffs,” LaCombe said. “I think everyone buckled down and focused on passing, shooting and eventually scoring four goals.”With 3:33 remaining, Lindenwood salvaged its only goal of the game after Caitlyn Post pounced on a scuffle in front of the net.Although the goal did cause a blemish in Jenesica Drinkwater’s otherwise flawless performance, it did nothing to change a game in which the outcome was already decided.After a string of close games that the Orange had to fight for in the final minutes, it finally was able to rest comfortably in the final minutes.“In the third period, we answered on the scoreboard,” Flanagan said. “But we had to frustrate them by just making better plays.”The Orange comes right back out for game two against the Lions at 2 p.m. on Saturday.“It’s definitely a quick turnaround,” Renault said. “They’re going to be playing desperate tomorrow, so we need to play just as desperate.” Comments Published on March 1, 2014 at 1:04 pm Contact Matt: [email protected] | @matt_schneidman Facebook Twitter Google+last_img