Field Hockey Hungry to Regain Top-10 Status
By: Skyler Wilkes | @swilkes04
CitrusTV Field Hockey Beat Reporter
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Syracuse Field Hockey is heading down to Charlottesville to square off against ACC rival Virginia on Friday. The 10th-ranked Cavaliers are the fourth and highest regarded top-25 team that the Orange have played. While SU is 2-1 versus the nation’s best, Sunday’s 1-0 victory over Hofstra could be a cause for concern.
The Pride came into the game at 3-4 and were in the middle of the pack in the CAA. Nonetheless, goalie Merlijn van der Vegt completely shut down the Syracuse offense, saving eight of the nine attempts that ended up on net. Despite putting up 18 shots, the ‘Cuse were unable to score within live play. It took a penalty stroke from Laura Graziosi with under two minutes left to put the Orange over the edge.
“Our timing was a bit off for sure, and holding on to the ball a little bit too long, and not working, leading off of each other, so I think we were just a little slow and delayed,” explained head coach Ange Bradley.
Subsequently, SU dropped one spot in the NFHCA Coaches Poll. The ‘Cuse are now ranked 11th in the country and fourth in the ACC behind North Carolina, Louisville, and UVA. Additionally, the Orange fell two places in national scoring average. With seven of its next 10 opponents being ranked, a similar performance is not going to cut it.
Regardless of Syracuse’s disappointing play on Sunday, Coach Bradley isn’t too worried.
“We will bounce back, a good team finds a way to win.”
There is definitely some truth in that. Since SU’s abysmal showing two weeks ago versus Princeton, Bradley’s squad has responded with three straight wins. The Orange pitched a shutout in two of those and continue to demonstrate that they are a force to be reckoned with on defense. As a matter of fact, the ‘Cuse have allowed just nine shots combined over that stretch. To put it in perspective, Syracuse took double that against Hofstra alone.
“I think our defensive structure is pretty good, like we always make sure that we have people behind the ball, pressure on ball, which helps a lot,” detailed midfielder Laura Graziosi.
It is that type of intensity that has established the Orange amongst the country’s leaders in scoring margin and goals per game. Being in the top-10 nationally requires a lot of demand, and Division 1 coaches seemingly believe that the ‘Cuse are not as good as its 7-1 record appears. However, Syracuse has a great chance to prove itself against a skilled Virginia team. The Wahoos are 4-3, with every loss coming to a ranked foe. Although UVA has not been as potent offensively as SU, the Cavs still stand amidst the top-30 in scoring average and points per contest.
Friday marks the 15th time that the two programs meet and Virginia has the upper hand, 11-3. The Wahoos have actually won eight matches in a row dating back to 2016. In order to snap the streak, the Orange look to capitalize on offensive opportunities while continuing their defensive dominance. Gametime is set for 4 p.m. and you can tune in on ACC Network Extra.