Former conference rivals came into the quarterfinals on Saturday as Syracuse looked to get back to the semifinals while the young Northridge Knights squad looked to play spoiler. Syracuse would take control in this game behind Conner Meyer’s faceoffs and would never look back as they ran away with 20-8 win to put them into the next round of playoffs.
The game started fast when Connor Meyer took a faceoff and split his defender and bounced the goal past Northridge goalie Calvin Bachtar. Northridge would respond on their next possession; after a missed goal attackman Kaden Hopper drove straight to the net as the Syracuse defense was caught not paying attention and scored to tie the game 1-1. Syracuse was not about to let Northridge take any lead or momentum as Meyer dominated at the faceoff which helped cause instant offense for the Titans. They would go on a five goal run to end the quarter thanks to the great ball movement on offense that caught Northridge out of position multiple times to give them a 6-1 lead to end the quarter.
Northridge made some changes in between quarters that would help them come back a little in the game as River Schneck would take a rebound and put it in the net. A little later Jordan Fisher would split his defender and sting a shot past the defense for the goal. Hunter Wilson would cap off the run off a rebound to make the game 6-4. Syracuse would call a time out and come out on a run of their own to end the half; Meyer would take a faceoff and on the fast break rip a shot high to high for a goal. On the next possession, Jackson Anderson would make a feed to Meyer who turned and let fly a low to low stinger that went five hole past the goalie. Out of another time out, Jordan Starks would laser a low shot past the defense. To end the run of goals for Syracuse, Starks would find Stewart Tulane for a rip to send Syracuse into halftime with the comfortable 10-4 lead and all of the momentum.
Out of the half Syracuse would squash any thought Northridge would have of coming back as they continued to dominate at the faceoffs and their defense would not let any of the Northridge possessions find a scoring chance. Syracuse’s Tulane would find Meyer for his first of back to back goals where he would help extend the lead 12-4. Northridge would try to get past the Syracuse defense but would lose Schneck, who tried to take a shot between three defenders and end up landing on the ground awkwardly which resulted in a broken arm. Syracuse would extend their lead when Meyer would win the faceoff and take the quick strike. Starks then inverted the defense, and Meyer took a feed from Tulane and found the back of the net to extend their lead 15-4.
Northridge would see freshman attackman Jensen Clifford attack the left side and bounce a shot past the defense to cut the lead back to 15-5. A scary moment would occur a little later when Syracuse’s Meyer would crumple to the ground with an apparent leg injury and was carried off the field by his teammates. Starks would score off of the restart, giving Syracuse a 16-6 lead.
The fourth quarter would start off all Syracuse as it was apparent that Northridge had conceded they had lost the game. Syracuse won the faceoffs despite not having Meyer; they won the hustle points as well that helped them maintain long possessions that resulted in two goals by Anderson and a goal by Easton Bingham. Northridge would make add a few goals late in the game when the win was already in hand for the Titans to end the game with a final score of 20-8.
Syracuse Head Coach Jay Meyer had taken his son to the hospital after the leg injury. Assistant Coach Curt Warnick said after the game, “We worked all week on being clean in all facets of the game, and I think it paid off today as we were able to control the flow of the game.” He added, “We hope that Meyer is ok and that he can be back for the semis, but if not we will just have to keep working.”
Syracuse will take on American Fork on Tuesday at Juan Diego High School in the semifinals.