Jecko’s 7 saves push Syracuse past Penn State, into final four

first_img Published on November 16, 2014 at 9:32 pm Contact Connor: [email protected] | @connorgrossman Goalkeeper Jess Jecko dropped her gear in a line behind her as she rushed to celebrate Syracuse’s final four berth, sharing a moment with fellow junior Alyssa Manley who leapt into her arms.While Jecko didn’t take part in any of the three goals scored by fourth-seeded SU (17-5, 2-4 Atlantic Coast) in its 3-1 win over Penn State (16-6, 5-3 Big Ten), her seven saves went a long way in keeping the Nittany Lions at an arm’s length.“She had a lot of really good saves early on,” SU head coach Ange Bradley said. “Jess has been really steady for us all year and experienced to a very young defense.”Her biggest save of the game was perhaps her first and it came 10:26 into the match. PSU senior forward Laura Gebhart was awarded a penalty stroke and stepped toward the penalty spot, staring down Jecko while the goalie’s arms spread wide across the goal.Jecko said she saw Gebhart’s stick was curved to the right as she began her shot, giving her the inclination to dive right. She laid out full-extension and deflected the ball away, her teammates watching from midfield raising their sticks and arms in unison.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe inkling she had to dive right isn’t always a common one on a penalty stroke, as she usually tries to keep things as plain and simple as she can.“You don’t really try to overthink it,” Jecko said. “It’s pretty much you guess which way, or go whatever way the ball is going, and throw my body out and hopefully stop it.”The Orange offense eased the pressure a bit on Jecko by jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the first 20 minutes, but she still played as if she didn’t have a lead. She deflected a shot with her right foot with 12 minutes left in the first half, then followed that up with another kick save four minutes later.Bradley was impressed with the early showing from Jecko, who she said has been battling the flu the past few days and has played “mind over matter” in these first two NCAA tournament games. She accredited SU’s entire defensive unit for holding back the Nittany Lions’ offense, helping ease the burden on her.“The defense really helped a lot today,” Jecko said. “They pushed over and marked who was important.“They gave me a lot of clean shots, there wasn’t a lot of deflection and it was a big improvement from previous weeks.”The junior goalie has been a rock for the Orange in the net this postseason, not allowing more than two goals per game in the ACC tournament. And in 140 minutes of play in the NCAA tournament, she’s allowed only two goals combined.It was Jecko, though, who directed a fluid SU defense through five Penn State penalty corners, and ultimately neutralized a second-half Penn State rally en route to the win.Penn State found a way to break through with 62 seconds remaining, as forward Jenna Chrismer emerged through a scrum in front of the net to get one past Jecko.Her showing was nearly immaculate in the second-round win, but she knows to win the next two games and a national title she’ll have to play even better.Said Jecko: “Hopefully next week we can get rid of those two goals and get a shutout.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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