Syracuse looks to continue commanding defensive efforts on the road this weekend

first_imgThe dominant Syracuse defense has a unique practice device that has helped it stop every opposing penalty corner this year: football pads.Ange Bradley, Syracuse’s field hockey head coach, uses a practice routine where the defensive unit gears up in football pants. The scout team, serving as the offense, then brings a high intensity that is comparable to the energy the Orange backs would see in a real game.“It’s actually pretty funny to see,” Bradley said. “We pad the kids from head to toe. They look like football players out there. So they can really go at it, step up and intercept, and not be worried about getting injured in a training session.”The unorthodox practice drill is working thus far. Through the first three games, Syracuse’s opponents have drawn 12 penalty corners, but have yet to find the back of the net with those opportunities. The No. 2 Orange (3-0) hopes to maintain its defensive intensity on the road when it takes on No. 24 New Hampshire on Friday and plays No. 12 Boston on Sunday.Bradley and the Orange are coming off one of the program’s most celebrated wins by defeating then-No. 2 North Carolina, 1-0, in an overtime thriller on Saturday afternoon.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe Tar Heels’ best opportunity to win the game came four minutes into the overtime session. UNC drew a penalty corner, just after Syracuse back Iona Holloway was sent to the sideline with a green card.But the No. 2 team in the country still couldn’t score.“It goes to show that our defense isn’t run by one player,” said senior goalkeeper Leann Stiver. “We’re a total unit. Laura (Hahnefeldt) was able to come in and step up. It was amazing.”Stiver said the Orange’s defensive corner unit was a monumental factor in the win over the Tar Heels, since most of UNC’s goals are scored off penalty corners. The team’s preparation in the week leading up to the showdown with UNC paid off.“We’ve just been perfecting our different structures coming out,” she said. “And we have a mentality that we’re not going to let up goals on defensive corners.”Syracuse has limited its opponents from having excessive penalty corners. Monmouth and Ohio drew just two and three, respectively, when matched against the Orange’s defensive unit. The Tar Heels, however, drew seven.Junior back Anna Crumb said the team isn’t upset with allowing UNC seven penalty corners, considering how talented last year’s national runner-up is. Against weaker opponents, Syracuse tries to minimize it to two or three corners, she said.To put that strategy in motion, Crumb said, the Orange backs need to keep forcing the opposing forwards out of the shooting circle and using “the dash as our circle.”Stiver and Crumb said the defense is clicking because of the chemistry between the players. Much of the backfield has returned from last year, so it is easy for defenders to communicate with each other, Stiver said.“We work well playing off of each other and we all know each other’s tendencies,” Crumb said.Bradley said the team can’t get caught up in the moment of Saturday’s glorious win. It’s important to keep your focus on the next game, she said.“We understand that the energy we came into the game against North Carolina, New Hampshire is going to do the same to us,” she said. “And so is Boston University. We don’t want to end up with a loss on our record in regard to an oversight or a lack of preparation.”The rankings, updated Tuesday, were not a distraction to the Orange, who is now No. 2. The Orange moved up five spots from its previous rank.But the Tar Heels, previously No. 2, are now ranked first in the poll, even with their defeat at the hands of Syracuse.“It is a bit odd,” Bradley said. “But it is what it is. We’re honored, but it doesn’t really mean anything until November.” Comments Published on September 6, 2012 at 1:51 am Contact Phil: [email protected] | @PhilDAbb Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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