Field Hockey Season Preview
By Tara Arya
CitrusTV Field Hockey Reporter
The Orange’s home opener series against Duke this past weekend was postponed due to COVID-19 concerns, so let’s take a look at this season’s opponents and how things are shaping up for Syracuse.
vs. Duke (Postponed)
Last year the women faced off against Duke and lost a heartbreaker in double overtime. This year they were slated to play two games at home against the Blue Devils to open their season, but that series was postponed after players were potentially exposed to COVID-19. When that matchup is rescheduled, it might be another close one. The Blue Devils graduated several of their key players on both sides of the ball. Jillian Wolgemuth, captain and anchor in the backfield is gone and they’ll have to look for new leadership on the team. Their leader in assists and the fourth most ever at Duke, Margaux Paolino, also graduated leaving a hole in the offense. It won’t be an easy one for the Orange, but certainly is an intriguing matchup with their offensive weapons. Only one of the games will count towards the Atlantic Coast Conference standings.
at Virginia (October 2, 4)
With the Duke game postponed, the season will now begin in Charlottesville for Syracuse. UVA is consistently at the top of the ACC and it’s going to be tough to knock them off. The Cavaliers biggest loss this year is not having their scoring and assists leader in Anzel Hall (formerly Viljoen). The Orange lost 2-0 to a Virginia team who advanced all the way to the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament, before they lost to Princeton. Syracuse will have to bring their A-game in this matchup and will be watching UVA’s matchup against Wake Forest this weekend to prepare for their season opener. Only the game on October 4th will count towards the ACC standings.
vs. Boston College (October 10, 11)
The Eagles will be the Orange’s first opponents at home this season and both games will count towards the ACC standings. Last year, Syracuse lost to Boston College 2-1 due to a last-minute goal in the fourth quarter. The Eagles are in a similar situation as the Orange, losing their starting goalkeeper Sarah Dwyer. Dwyer recorded the 3rd most shutouts in a BC season last year and Syracuse will definitely have to capitalize on the offensive end. The Eagles also graduated Kate Pianko, a crucial defensive player. In this matchup, the Orange are going to rely heavily on what their offense can do, especially after losing Sinck.
at North Carolina (October 16)
The Orange will face the defending champion Tar Heels who haven’t lost a game in two years. It is going to be a tall task, but North Carolina is a much different team than a year ago. They come into the season graduating eight players from their championship team, including Catherine Hayden and Marissa Creatore who were the Tar Heels leading scorers. The biggest loss for UNC is Yentl Leemans, the former ACC Defensive Player of the Year, First Team All-American and team leader in assists. Although they are now a very young team, they can’t be underestimated after eight titles and two undefeated seasons in a row. This game will be a big test for the Orange after their loss to UNC 3-1 last season.
at Wake Forest (October 18, 19)
On the other hand, Syracuse should have much more success against the Demon Deacons. The Orange won last year’s meeting, 4-2 thanks to goals from four different members of the team– SJ Quigley, Charlotte de Vries, Laura Graziosi and Sarah Luby. Wake Forest also comes into the season without their starting goalkeeper from last year, Isla Bint, giving the Orange more confidence in their ability to score.
vs. Louisville (October 30)
The women finish their regular season against Louisville at home. After winning 2-1 in overtime during the regular season last year, the Orange fell 1-0 to the Cardinals in the ACC Tournament. Louisville will be without their 2019 season leading scorer, Bethany Russ, who graduated and scored all of their goals in the NCAA Tournament. The Orange will also not have to see Whena Munn who scored the game winning goal against Syracuse in the ACC Tournament. Louisville finished one spot above Syracuse in the ACC last year as well as in the Coach’s Preseason Poll this season. A lot can happen before the final game of the regular season and the Orange will be looking for revenge at home.
Hoping there will be no more bumps in the road and all games can be played, the Orange have a tough all-conference schedule ahead of them. Syracuse opens their season in Charlottesville against a tough Virginia team on October 2nd.
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