Women's ice hockey: Piacentini breaks program scoring record in disappointing tie

SU jumped out to a 4-0 lead against Lindenwood, but couldn't hold it through the final two periods.

42. To "The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy" fans, it’s the answer to life. To professional sports fans, it’s the number Jackie Robinson used to break the Major League Baseball color barrier.

To Syracuse University junior forward Melissa Piacentini, it’s the record number of career goals she has scored while suiting up for the Orange women’s ice hockey team. 

On Friday in front of a home crowd at Tennity Ice Pavilion, Piacentini scored seven seconds into an early power play against the Lindenwood University Lady Lions to tie Margot Scharfe’s record of 41 career goals set just last season. Almost ten minutes later, Syracuse freshman forward Stephanie Grossi saw Piacentini sneak in behind the Lady Lions’ goalkeeper, hit her with a pass, and Piacentini connected with the second of four Orange goals of the first period.

After the first period, however, Lindenwood junior goalkeeper Nicole Hensley stonewalled the Orange attack and the Lady Lions’ offense poured on four goals over the next two periods, sending the teams to an eventual 4-4 tie.

“I think that going up 4-0 can bite you in the a-- sometimes. We got too complacent,” Piacentini said. “You’re up 4-0… you never think you’re going to lose the game, but if you start playing as individuals instead of a team, that’s what happens.”

Until late in the first period, the Orange had more goals than the Lady Lions had shots on goal. Syracuse senior forward Allie LaCombe – who scored late in the first period – felt her team should have taken a different approach after taking the commanding lead early.

“When you’re ahead it’s easy to get excited, but once you get comfortable with your lead, that’s when teams struggle. That happened with us, too,” LaCombe said. “I think we need to learn to push the pedal down rather than let up on the gas when we have a lead.”

Syracuse coach Paul Flanagan felt his team should have had a more keen focus on defense, but noted the Lindenwood coaching staff made some key adjustments in the second and third periods.

“They outcoached us and made some great adjustments. Give them a ton of credit. They upped their game a lot,” Flanagan said. “All we had to do was play good, smart defense. We didn’t need any more goals. That’s not to say you don’t want to try to score, but just be smart. Don’t give them any ammo.”

Lindenwood’s ammunition came in the form of senior forward Jordyn Constance who assisted on each of the four Lady Lions goals.

Allowing four goals was not in Syracuse junior goalkeeper Jenn Gilligan’s game plan after shutting out the Lady Lions once already this season.

“I thought I battled hard for most of it. Four goals, obviously, isn’t what I need to be doing, but hopefully I can come back tomorrow with a better performance. I thought I did my job for the most part, but it wasn’t enough tonight,” Gilligan said.

Gilligan, LaCombe and Piacentini all knew the game was winnable and struggled to deal with yet another tie.

“Ten ties. I never thought in my four years I would say that in a season,” LaCombe said. “Ties are very frustrating. Obviously we want to win. I don’t think we’re satisfied with just one point. I think we should have won that game. Ties are a little deflating, but I think our team has enough energy to bounce back and win tomorrow.”

While the team will try to rally in its rematch with Lindenwood at 2 p.m. on Feb. 14, Flanagan feels like it’s time for his team to grow up.

“We’re shooting the pucks like we’re 12 year olds. You’re not going to win hockey games,” Flanagan said. “It’s just a lack of skill and lack of determination I guess. That’s really frustrating because we had a lot of opportunities.”

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