FH : Syracuse overcomes physical play from Villanova to advance to Big East championship game

first_img Published on November 4, 2011 at 12:00 pm Contact Stephen: [email protected] | @Stephen_Bailey1 The Syracuse forwards entered Friday’s game prepared for a battle. After playing Villanova one week ago, SU senior forward Heather Susek was familiar with the physical nature of the Wildcats’ backs.‘We knew it was going to be a physical game,’ Susek said. ‘Villanova’s always coming up from the backfield, so we just had to hold our ground and work around them.’And with that mindset, the Orange forwards entered the game ready to exceed the grit and fortitude of the Wildcats.The Syracuse (17-3, 5-1 Big East) forwards displayed toughness, helping the second-seeded Orange to a 3-0 victory over third-seeded Villanova (8-11, 3-3) in front of 1,307 at J.S. Coyne Stadium in Friday’s Big East tournament semifinal. They combined for two of the team’s three goals to lead No. 5 SU into the championship game on Sunday at 1 p.m. against No. 4 Connecticut.The Huskies rallied back from a 2-0 deficit to defeat fourth-seeded Louisville 3-2 in the first semifinal.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textFrom the opening minutes, the Villanova backs established that aggressive presence to frustrate the Orange early on.In the eighth minute, Susek had a chance to put SU in front. She brushed past a pair of Villanova backs outside the shooting circle, but before she could fire a shot, another Wildcats’ back tackled her and the ball rolled unclaimed toward the sideline. Syracuse junior forward Kelsey Millman had a chance to make a play on the ball, but she slipped and fell.Just moments later, though, the Orange broke through.After Jordan Page launched a shot into the box, a scramble broke loose. A cluster of Syracuse and Villanova players fought for possession to the right of the net. The ball kicked left and freshman forward Lauren Brooks dove fully extending herself to knock the ball past goalkeeper Megan Goelz.The Orange proved tougher in this particular scrum.‘It was going between people on our team and it was coming across, so I just swept it in,’ Brooks said. ‘… When we’re in the circle, we want to try to put the ball in the cage or obviously get a corner. We want a result out of it, so we do whatever it takes to get it in there. So I just laid it out and it went in for me.’From there, the SU forwards continued to battle. Page continuously attacked the baseline, sending crosses into the circle. Susek and Millman regularly penetrated the Wildcats defense to set up chances. But none were converted into goals.While the Orange forwards struggled to find the back of the cage, they created scoring opportunities consistently throughout the game despite a constant stream of bumps and shoves from the Villanova backs. While it may have frustrated other teams, Page said the SU forwards made an effort to not let the Wildcats’ physicality affect their mindset.‘It’s just all about keeping composed,’ Page said. ‘At times when someone knocks you off the ball, you might get upset. But you just have to keep composed, and that’s exactly what we did.’Leading 2-0 following a goal by back Iona Holloway in the 22nd minute, another SU forward broke through in the 63rd minute.Millman stood in the shooting circle, jockeying for position with a Villanova player to the left of the goal as sophomore midfielder Leonie Geyer dribbled up the right sideline. Geyer crossed into the shooting circle and smacked a pass into the open space between Millman and Goelz.Simultaneously, Millman broke free of her mark and crashed back post. In one sweeping motion, she collected the pass and pushed the ball into the cage for a 3-0 lead.The game was decided at this point, and the goal capped off a Syracuse victory in which the forwards overcame a brutish Villanova defense.As Susek said, the SU forwards entered the game ready to scrap and claw for a victory. Though the physicality certainly caused the Orange to miss several chances throughout the game, the forwards stayed strong to leave the field with the desired result and a trip to the Big East championship game.‘I think we missed some opportunities where we could have put in a couple more goals,’ Brooks said. ‘But I think overall, we got the result that we wanted.’[email protected] Commentscenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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