Syracuse had had its fair share of struggles against Davis this year, losing both of its regular season matchups with the Darts by 10 combined goals — results that forced the Titans into a second-place finish in Region 1.
But in Saturday’s 6A quarterfinal matchup between the two sides, the third time was the charm for the Titans.
Fifth-seeded Syracuse booked its spot in the 6A semifinals with a 9-5 victory road victory over No. 4-seed Davis, the program’s first win over the Darts in its two-year lifespan.
What changed this time around for the Titans?
Syracuse head coach Adam Suttlemyre said it came down to his team’s ability to play a full 50-minute game.
“We’ve played hard against them twice this year, but we just kept running out of gas in the second halves and they’d pull away from us,” Suttlemyre said.
So when the Titans carried a 5-3 lead into the second half of Saturday’s game, they knew they couldn’t afford to let their feet off the gas.
“Today we said at halftime, ‘They’re going to make a run, but we’ve just got to make a run of our own,’” Suttlemyre said.
“Whoever could stay composed, control their emotions and keep having fun would be the team who’d get the win in the second half.”
Davis’ Kerri Norton scored for the Darts to cut the lead to one just over four minutes into the half, but Syracuse did what its coach said it needed to and responded with its own run.
The Titans scored four unanswered goals and shut the Darts out for over 18 minutes of gameplay in the second half to secure a 9-4 lead.
Davis managed a goal with 2:39 left to play to bring the score to 9-5, but that was the last goal of the game as the Titans finally managed to beat their foe from Region 1.
Holding a team like Davis — which had five players finish with over 25 goals this season — to just five goals all game was the biggest difference maker for Syracuse, according to Suttlemyre.
“Our defense was phenomenal today,” Suttlemyre said. “(Davis) controlled the ball more than we did, but that was the soundest our defense has played all year.
“From our goalie to our middies, our defense was sliding and communicating…Our kids executed today.”
Limiting a team like the Darts to a minimal amount of goals required contributions from nearly everyone on the field, but the individual performance from senior keeper Gabby Fessler — who had multiple brilliant saves — was key for the Titans.
Fessler said that she and her teammates studied the tendencies of each Davis player, which helped them shut things down defensively, but she ultimately said it just came down to a lot of hard work.
“Our defense killed it and was on its top game today,” Fessler said. “(Davis) took some bad shots at me because our defense was doing so well.
“It made saving the shots a lot easier.”
The crowning moment of Fessler’s performance came with 1:25 remaining in the game as she saved a free-position shot from Davis that could’ve cut the deficit to three.
After the Darts had furiously scrambled to string together goals for a comeback, the save from Fessler all but signified that the Titans were going to come out with a win.
In the attack, Syracuse was led by the 6A all-time leading goal scorer, Brooklyn Suttlemyre, who scored four goals, followed by Malea Hansen, who had three shots find the back of the net.
The four-goal performance gave Brooklyn Suttlemyre 116 goals this season, according to the Deseret News prep sports stat database, good for the most in the state by over 30.
Though the match had plenty of physicality and intensity, Fessler said the team’s ability to have fun in the game really propelled them through the finish line.
“I think we got in our heads the last couple times we played Davis, but I think today we just went out there and had fun,” Fessler said.
“We just wanted to do our best and we knew whether we won or lost, it would be a good game, but we won and it feels awesome.”
Adam Suttlemyre said that the Titans played like they had nothing to lose on Saturday, and they will continue to do so in their semifinal match Tuesday at Westminster.
“We said we were playing with house money,” Adam Suttlemyre said. “We had nothing to lose.
“We wanted to play loose and have fun and we did that…I’ve got to tip my hat to those girls. They played so hard and they wanted this game.”