Despite tough Louisville defense, Tumolo paces Syracuse with stellar performance

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ It didn’t matter how tightly Louisville’s defenders tried to faceguard Michelle Tumolo. The Cardinals couldn’t stop Syracuse’s senior attack.“She just steps on the field and wants to have a great game every time,” said Orange attack Alyssa Murray. “She definitely is the spark of our offense.”Despite facing stiff, up-close defense from the Cardinals (8-5, 0-4 Big East), Tumolo scored three goals while distributing four assists and scooping up a career-high six ground balls as the No. 6 Orange (8-3, 4-0 Big East) blew out UofL, 19-7, at the Carrier Dome on Friday night. The senior racked up five of her seven points in the first half, helping SU put the game away minutes before halftime.Syracuse was slow to find its shots early, head coach Gary Gait said, but once the Orange had its opportunities, it capitalized. Tumolo contributed to SU’s first three goals, spanning the opening 10 minutes of the game.She first struck when UofL goalie Ashley Herbst couldn’t secure her save of Katie Webster’s shot. Tumolo grabbed the ground ball and tossed it into a wide-open net for a 1-0 Orange lead five minutes in.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textTumolo fed Kayla Treanor from behind the cage to double the lead and she assisted Murray’s first of five goals for a 3-0 advantage.“She’s just doing what she always does when it comes to goals or assists,” Murray said.But Tumolo’s highlight-reel goals were even more impressive.Late in the first half, Syracuse’s Kailah Kempney’s shot went wide, but right to Tumolo behind the net. Dodging to her left from behind the cage, Tumolo shook a defender to create space, and buried a shot over Herbst’s right shoulder for a 9-3 SU lead.“She adjusted to being shut off and didn’t get taken out of her game,” Gait said. “And that was something that we talked a lot about. When you get shut off, you can’t get frustrated. She was able to get the ball still and turn the corner and score some goals.”Tumolo said the Orange’s offense is improving in its reaction to defenses who faceguard her, because SU can now expect opposing units to guard her that way. Tumolo said she was able to free herself from the clinging UofL defenders by holding her stick upright and keeping the Cardinals a stick’s length away from her.It wasn’t always easy, but Syracuse was able to put the ball in the stick of its biggest playmaker.“The offense worked really hard to get me the ball sometimes,” Tumolo said.Aside from Tumolo’s goal scoring and facilitating, Murray commended her teammate for her hustle on ground balls, which created extra possessions for Syracuse’s offense. All six of Tumolo’s ground balls came in the first half.Ground balls aren’t appreciated as much as goals or assists, Murray said, but they’re “that much more of a spark.”“That’s one thing she always brings, is 100-percent effort. And that paid off,” Gait said.But what showcased Tumolo’s abilities the most was her goal in the final minute of the first period.After forcing a turnover from the Cardinals, the Orange pushed the ball across midfield. Devon Collins held the ball about 10 yards out from the cage, and seemed as if she’d pull it out and pass on the transition opportunity.But Tumolo streaked across the center of the field, the goal on her right-hand side, and expected Collins’ pass to be high up on her stick side.It wasn’t.Collins’ pass was just inches off the ground and on Tumolo’s right side. But Tumolo reacted in an instant. In one smooth motion, she corralled the low pass, wound up and fired the ball past Herbst’s left, as Tumolo fell to the Carrier Dome turf.“The goalie shifted so I saw the opening – and got decked at the end, but,” Tumolo said, then paused.“Gotta do what you gotta do.” Comments Published on April 12, 2013 at 10:50 pm Contact Phil: pmdabbra@syr.edu | @PhilDAbblast_img read more