Syracuse football poll: Grade SU’s performance and vote for player of the game

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Syracuse displaying youth, inconsistency early in the season

first_img Published on September 12, 2018 at 11:37 pm Contact Anthony: amdabbun@syr.edu Facebook Twitter Google+ Syracuse head coach Ange Bradley stood on the touchline and snapped her fingers, repeatedly.“Pressure! Pressure!” she yelled.She plead for the Orange to increase its intensity in a game that had been decided against Vermont. Syracuse won, 4-1, but Bradley admitted that her team had a long way to go.“We’re slow right now and this is youth,” Bradley said after opening day. “And we’ve got to get pressure on the ball.”No. 12 Syracuse (3-2, 0-1 Atlantic Coast) features nine freshmen and eight sophomores on the 2018 roster, leaving just five upperclassmen — Bradley’s fewest number since 2008. This season, six of Syracuse’s eight goals, and all five assists, are from underclassmen. But with youth comes inconsistencies, Bradley said.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textSophomore goalkeeper Borg van der Velde has stepped up as a key communicator from the back. Van der Velde and senior Roos Weers work as a tandem to read the game and sense danger before it arises. Van der Velde can be heard calling out to players on the pitch. She helps organize the defense and fill in the gaps, pushing them forward when possible.“It’s helping direct people to read things and move to respond around them,” Bradley said.Weers is the only upperclassmen to register points. She’s scored two goals from penalty corners this season, but both were set up by freshmen Tess Queen and Kira Wimbert.When Wimbert is on the field, she commands the role of inserting the ball on penalty corners — the entry pass into the field of play. SU uses multiple different set plays to generate open shot attempts from corners, but almost always, Queen is the main stopper. She’s won the job for now, she said.Wimbert, a Germany native, stressed fitness as the biggest obstacle in her transition, a challenge she’s embracing and actually enjoys. Queen played at Middletown High School, a small school in Smithsburg, Maryland, where she said the competition level wasn’t great. Her club team, Washington Wolves, best prepared her for the leap to SU. There, she learned from her coach, Joann Engstrom, a former U.S. National team player.Queen said no amount of preparation could prepare her for the ACC, which has five top-10 teams in the NFHCA rankings.Laura Angle | Digital Design EditorOn opening day against Vermont, SU’s new talent was on full display. SU scored four goals, all scored or assisted by freshmen, including a backhand finish by Laura Graziosi and a rebound tap-in from Wimbert.That afternoon, Bradley went into the locker room at halftime wanting more from Syracuse. In the second half, Wimbert connected with sophomore and leading goal-scorer Chiara Gutsche. Wimbert came into space with a diagonal run, drawing both defenders before pivoting and finding Gutsche. The pass appeared out of reach, but Gutsche dove and converted the chance. Watching that goal, it seemed as though the two had been playing together for years.“I wasn’t expecting to play that much to be honest,” Wimbert said after the first game. “I’ve had an up-and-down preseason.”Against Virginia and Connecticut, the two highest ranked opponents the Orange have faced this season, the youth showed in critical moments. The freshmen duo of Queen and Graziosi connected on a penalty corner routine to put SU ahead with 7:11 to play.Virginia found the tying goal less than a minute later. In double overtime, an odd-man attack allowed the Cavaliers to find the goal and hand Syracuse its first loss.“That can’t happen, period.” Weers said. “We just need the maturity there and we need to close it off.”Playing No. 1 UConn last Sunday, the margins between the teams proved thin. Twice, the Orange failed to box out in the penalty area, Bradley said. The Huskies scored both times. Freshman Sasha Bull’s errant entry pass was intercepted and turned into a goal seconds later. Bull is one of three freshmen to start every game, and she played every minute Sunday against UConn.SU is still too slow reading the game and understanding which spots to be in, Bradley said. The game against Connecticut gives Syracuse a model to build toward as the season progresses.“Connecticut is the gold standard, they’re number one,” Bradley said. “We’ve got more opportunities to get out there and mature and practice and get better.” Commentslast_img read more