SU Dominates Duke and Advances to ACC Semi-Finals
By Nick Luttrell
CitrusTV Field Hockey Beat Reporter
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — For the entire season, Syracuse (13-4, 4-2 Atlantic Coast) had struggled in one very big way – penalty corners. While they are effective in setting themselves up for corner opportunities, they rarely execute. But in today’s 5-1 victory over Duke (6-11, 0-6 ACC), that wasn’t the case.
While the Orange only had five penalty corners in the contest (2.5 below average), they scored on four of them, their highest mark of the season. At the helm of SU’s penalty corner attack was Sophomore Eefke van den Nieuwenhof, who finished the night with two goals and an assist.
Syracuse Head Coach Ange Bradley was proud of what she got out of her dynamic defensive back.
“Eefke played really well. She controlled, quarterbacked our field, controlled our tempo of play,” Bradley said. “I’m so happy for her that she’s been able to break through and execute… I think she’s found her groove the last couple of days.”
Playing the game in front of the hometown crowd also served as an advantage for SU, according to van den Nieuwenhoff and Bradley.
“I think the atmosphere was amazing, all the other [Syracuse athletic] teams were supporting us and the other students,” van den Nieuwenhoff said.
Bradley used one word to describe what it was like to have the first conference tournament in a decade at J.S. Coyne Stadium: “Surreal”
According to the athletics website, 263 attended the game, which was the second-largest attended game of the year at Coyne. The other was on October 1, when over 300 people came out to see Syracuse throttle North Carolina 5-0.
Bradley has repeatedly stated that in the postseason, everyone’s record is 0-0. And while the Orange are now 1-0 in the postseason and onto the semifinals, van den Nieuwenhoff is already looking ahead to their matchup tomorrow afternoon.
“We have to regroup and get ready for tomorrow because it’s the semifinals and it’s not going to be easy,” van den Nieuwenhof said. “If we play as well as we did today, I have a lot of faith for tomorrow.”
The Orange will not have an easy task tomorrow, though. They will once again face off against North Carolina – the three seed in the tournament. The Tar Heels defeat Wake Forest 3-2 tonight in a game that ended in an overtime game-winner by UNC’s Cassie Sumfest.
One thing to note for tomorrow night’s UNC/SU game: the Tar Heels will be without Head Coach Karen Shelton, who received a red card in tonight’s quarter-final game. Shelton has led North Carolina to nine straight national titles during her 40 years at the program.
Syracuse and UNC will begin at 3:30 PM, with the winner moving on to face Louisville/Virginia in the Championship Game on Sunday. You can watch the game on the ACCN or follow my Twitter for live updates.
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