COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- It was a tale of two halves for University of Richmond's field hockey team on Saturday in College Park, Md.
The Spiders outshot Syracuse University, 6-3, in the first half, but failed to capitalize on the opportunities, going into halftime tied, 0-0.
In the second half, the number three team in the nation made them pay, scoring two goals, while owning a 9-3 shooting advantage, to win the first round of the NCAA tournament, 2-0, ending Richmond's season.
"Field hockey is a sport of momentum," Richmond coach Gina Lucido said. "It was really an evenly played game, and they were just able to convert on their chances. It's just unfortunate for us to know that we couldn't put the ball in the back of the net, but it's for no lack of effort, for no lack of skill; it's just the way sports plays out sometimes."
Senior forward Katelin Peterson led the way for the Spiders, as she has for much of her career, with six shots, four on goal.
"Honestly, I couldn't be prouder of this entire team, and every girl on this team is an amazing individual that has so much potential," Peterson said. "So proud of the way they fought today; we came out fighting and were united through the whole season."
Unity has been the theme of the team the entire season.
"I've never coached a team that was so committed to just the celebration of the success of every single person," Lucido said. "The girls were so selfless which enabled us to be so strong. They didn't take away from each other at all, and they were genuinely happy for each other's success. We're a team through and through, and every coach wants that."
The game remained scoreless until 10 minutes into the second half, when Syracuse's Monica Loncarica blasted a pass into the box that Jordan Page deflected into the cage.
Five minutes later, the Orangemen struck again when Page found Heather Susek open in front of the goal, and she put it in past a diving Anna Zarkoski, Richmond's goalkeeper.
Zarkoski made five saves in the game, none more impressive than her diving save of a penalty shot by Loncarica in the first half to keep the game scoreless.
After the game, the Richmond players showed their emotion, reflecting on all the hard work they put into the season.
"Life and sports are very similar in that outcomes don't define who you are or what your character is," Lucido said. "The seniors have made a lasting impact and legacy of where this program is in the future going to be standing, so you can't not celebrate that. Every single one of them, while very bittersweet, their heads are very high, as they should be."
The game was the last for Richmond's four seniors: Peterson, Emily Straniero, Sierra Aspludh and Betsy Herr.
"After the game, we basically came together, thanked God for the time we had as a team, and told each other that no matter what, we're gonna stay united," Peterson said. "We entered the season united, we're ending the season united, and we're very blessed for the amazing season we had."
Richmond finished the season 16-7, winning the Atlantic-10 Championship last weekend.
Game Notes: Syracuse goalkeeper Leann Striver made four saves, all off shots from Peterson... A goal by Straniero in the first half was waved off for being too high... Richmond forward Jackie Gyger left the game early in the second half after colliding with Striver going for a loose ball and did not return.
Contact staff writer David Weissman at firstname.lastname@example.org