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Syracuse Orange fell to CHA rival RIT 1-0

By Russell Jaslow.

The Syracuse women’s hopes for the CHA playoffs ended tonight in RIT. The Tigers defeated the Orange, 1-0, on an early first-period goal.

“Disappointing result,” Syracuse coach Britni Smith understated. “A lot of players have given a lot to the program. Points is what we needed tonight, so not to get those is disappointing.”

The door was left open after Lindenwood lost to Mercyhurst earlier in the day, 3-0. But with this loss, the best Syracuse can get is a tie with Lindenwood. And the Lions have a 2-0-2 head-to-head record to win the tie-breaker.

A three-way tie with RIT and Lindenwood for the final playoff spot is a possibility. However, that scenario also favors Lindenwood with the tie-breaker. (Lindenwood also holds the tie-breaker if they only tie RIT.)

Syracuse was a bit discombobulated in the first period. They did not get a shot on goal till nearly the 11-minute mark. Twice, players collided with their teammates, taking them both out of the play. Then, there was the lone goal they let up mere seconds after being assessed a penalty.

Linda Rulle won the face-off back to Jessie Burks. She skated to the middle of the blueline, and with a clear path, fired the puck towards the net. Jordyn Bear was there in front to tip it in at 5:17, six seconds after Kate Holmes was sent to the box for slashing. It was the only power play shot RIT got all game.

The second period saw Syracuse only get three shots on goal. The third was much more productive in generating chances, but RIT’s Sophia Bellina turned them all away, making 19 saves for the shutout.

Syracuse pulled their goalie for the final two minutes, but except for one excellent opportunity, were unable to muster any pressure.

Allie Kelley continued to do Allie Kelley things in the net, making 26 saves.

“Nothing out of the norm,” Smith said. “That’s what she does every game for us. Battles hard in the crease. Especially in the second period, where she faced some pretty high-quality chances and she turned them away. To keep them to one, that’s a game where you have to find the back of the net to find a win for her.”

Kelley has had quite the journey. She started out at Quinnipiac where she played in six games her first season. Then, Kelley transferred to St. Anselm, registering over 1,000 saves each of her two seasons there. Only two, because she completed her undergraduate degree in three years.

Thus, she transferred to Syracuse for graduate work. And once again, she registered over 1,000 saves, attaining that last week against Lindenwood. And Kelley still has another year of eligibility, if she chooses.

The Orange has three games remaining. They get a return engagement with RIT, this time at home. But not at their usual home. Saturday’s 2:00 game will be at the Upstate Medical Arena at the Oncenter War Memorial as part of a doubleheader with the AHL Syracuse Crunch.

Then Syracuse (3-12-2,6-22-3) plays twice at the Tennity Ice Pavilion next weekend against Mercyhurst to close out the season.

“New focus, new purpose,” Smith said about the next three games. “We’ll talk about that tomorrow. Today is just about letting them have the emotions they have right now and be together as a team and regroup in the morning.”

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