Field Hockey Looks to Finish Strong in Final Homestand
By: Skyler Wilkes | @swilkes04
CitrusTV Field Hockey Beat Reporter
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – No. 12 Syracuse has three games left and two of them take place at J.S. Coyne Stadium. The Orange have been utterly dominant at home this season, recording a 7-0 record and outscoring their opponents 30-3. That success may be tested this weekend though, when fourth-ranked Louisville and No. 19 Rutgers come to town.
First, let’s take a look at the Cardinals.
To preface, these two programs are a lot alike. Similarly to the ‘Cuse, the Cards are 12-3 with each loss coming to a top-20 team. However, UofL has a 1-3 mark in the ACC while SU is 2-2. Louisville has five wins against ranked competition compared to Syracuse who has four. Speaking of which, the Cardinals have won three straight matches with two coming over ranked challengers. In its most recent contest, UofL defeated Ball State 4-0.
When it comes to shared matchups, both squads experienced comparable outcomes. Louisville took down Princeton 2-1 whereas Syracuse fell 5-1. The other variances include UofL losing to North Carolina by three rather than five and SU beating Duke by four instead of one.
Despite placing eight spots higher in the polls, the Cards actually trail the ‘Cuse in most statistical categories. In scoring average, the Orange are fifth and the Cardinals are 39th. When it comes to goals per game, SU is also fifth while Louisville is tied for 40th. Additionally, Syracuse is sixth in points per contest and UofL is 46th. The one area where the Cards do have the upper hand is save percentage. Grad student Sasha Elliott leads the nation at 85%, thanks to her 77 stops and just 14 goals allowed. Meanwhile, the ‘Cuse’s netminding duo is 49th with a 71% clip.
Even though the Orange lead the all-time series 12-9, Justine Sowry’s crew has taken two in a row and six of the last eight. The most recent meeting came almost a year ago, where Louisville came out on top 2-1. With two stellar defensive units, it seems like we’re in store for another low-scoring affair. A win would give SU its best home record since the 2015 championship season. Play is set for 6 p.m. on Friday.
Now, it’s on to Rutgers.
The Scarlet Knights may have the most difficult schedule in the country. They have already played 10 top-25 teams, compiling a 4-6 record. As a matter of fact, RU’s past three adversaries have also been in the top three nationally. Rutgers has lost four of five and aims to bounce back after falling to No. 2 Maryland 4-3 last week. Overall, the Knights are 7-7, with a 3-4 mark in the Big Ten.
RU and Syracuse share a few common foes, but some results do vary. Rutgers lost to Duke in a shootout while SU beat them 5-1. Both conquered Monmouth, although the Scarlet Knights needed an extra two periods. Princeton was victorious over each team as well by a combined score of 9-2.
Statistically, the ‘Cuse mostly have the advantage again. The Knights are 62nd in goals per game, 64th in scoring average, 66th in points and 43rd in save percentage.
These two programs have a storied history with each other. They first began playing in 1982 and have had 27 meetings since then. The Orange are 21-7 in the series, which includes 10 of the last 11. Meredith Civico’s team was able to stop the skid a year ago with a 2-1 victory in double overtime.
If Syracuse can knock off Louisville, Sunday’s match really intensifies. The momentum of a top-five win and the chance for SU to finish undefeated in the 315 could create quite the atmosphere. It’s a pretty evenly matched game that should be competitive. Gametime is at noon and you certainly won’t want to miss it.