Despite blowout losses, Syracuse’s offensive performances have improved

first_img Comments On Oct. 7, No. 3 North Carolina was smothering Syracuse. The Tar Heels held a two-goal advantage, had nine shots, and if not for a penalty kick save by SU goalkeeper Jordan Harris, would have scored three goals with three-quarters of the game left to play.Still, Syracuse had a temporary breakthrough. Taylor Bennett launched a free kick from deep within SU’s defensive half to the Tar Heels’ penalty area, where Kate Hostage delicately flicked it on to the feet of UNC defender Julia Ashley. Ashley let it run, Meghan Root snuck behind her mark, and the freshman’s close-range finish was tidy. The Orange was within one goal against one of the nation’s best teams.“As a team we needed to be a little scrappier in the box, a little more hungry,” Root said. “And we need to do it a lot more consistently throughout the game.”Syracuse (3-12, 0-7 Atlantic Coast) conceded five unanswered goals following Root’s goal, in an eventual 7-1 loss, marking the sixth time it has allowed four or more goals this year. In its last three games, SU has scored five of its 11 goals on the season but surrendered 18. The Orange’s attack has come to life after a scoreless run in four games from Sept. 16 to 29, but Syracuse’s inability to keep games close has made its goals insignificant.After Kate Hostage’s goal in the 41st minute against Kent State on Sept. 13, SU’s offense went cold. First, it was a 4-0 loss to then-No. 13 Duke, a game in which Hostage, the team’s leading scorer, went down with a left ankle injury that sidelined her for the next three games. Four days later, Boston College held the Orange scoreless again in a dominant 3-0 win.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textSyracuse’s next two contests, both 1-0 losses, were “bad losses to take,” SU head coach Phil Wheddon said. First, the Orange conceded with nine seconds left in the game to then-one loss Louisville. Six days later, SU fell to Miami, who was winless in its previous seven games.“To lose those games against Louisville and Miami were gutting for us,” Wheddon said. “We honestly felt we should have got something out those games.”In the Orange’s next game against then-No. 23 North Carolina State, the drought finally ended, 423 game minutes after Hostage’s goal against Kent State. When Sydney Brackett’s corner kick snuck inside the front post and into the net in the third minute, SU celebrated like it was a last-minute winner.“I think you could see it in our reaction,” Root said. “All of us were sprinting and smiling and celebrating. There was just relief on our faces because we know we’re capable of scoring.”While Syracuse’s lead lasted just seven minutes, simply seeing the ball go into the net instilled SU with the belief that it could keep scoring, Brackett said. The Orange went on to score twice more that night.The increase in offensive production has been a result of SU pressing higher up the field with a 4-3-3 formation. On Saturday against Notre Dame, Wheddon started the second half with a high press. It worked for the first 25 minutes of the half, as the Orange dominated possession and scored a goal.“We’ve made creative runs and have had an offensive mindset,” Brackett said about SU’s recent offensive success. “A lot of the things that we’ve been talking about and working on in practice have finally started to translate onto the field.”But Syracuse’s offensive surge ended immediately following its goal. Over the final 20 minutes, the Fighting Irish took advantage of Syracuse’s offensive desperation and scored three goals en route to a 5-1 victory.While the Orange’s goals haven’t led to wins, they’ve proved SU can score against the conference’s best. Syracuse will have another opportunity to prove that on Thursday when it faces Virginia, who has allowed a conference-low seven goals this season.“We’re happy to be finding the back of the net,” Wheddon said. “But we’ve got to make sure that we close out games so we can win games.” Published on October 16, 2018 at 10:39 pm Contact David: [email protected]center_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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