Syracuse Learns From UNC Loss, Prepares for NCAA Tournament
By Nick Luttrell
CitrusTV Field Hockey Beat Reporter
From the beginning of the season, Syracuse’s goal remained the same: win the ACC Championship. It wasn’t to go on a nine-game winning streak during the regular season, or to score seven goals in a game, or to shut out four opponents in a row. It wasn’t even to win the National Championship. It was to be crowned champions of the Atlantic Coast, and to do it in front of their home crowd at J.S. Coyne Stadium.
But after North Carolina’s Erin Matson single-handedly outscored the Orange 3-0 in the first half of the ACC semifinals, that dream for SU came to a screeching halt. The Tar Heels went on to defeat the Orange 4-1, Syracuse’s worst loss of the season. Tears welled up in the eyes of the SU players that had put hours of time, effort and energy into the field hockey program at Syracuse.
But fortunately, the Orange’s season is not over just yet. After finishing the season 13-4 (4-2 Atlantic Coast) and ranked in the top 10, Syracuse got some good news 48 hours after their loss to UNC. Halfway through the NCAA Division I Field Hockey Selection Show they breathed a sigh of relief as they heard their name called as one of the eight programs to receive an at-large bid to the tournament.
Redshirt Senior Carolin Hoffmann and her teammates gathered around the TV on Sunday night and watched, anxiously awaiting to see if her team would continue their season. Hoffmann recalled the moment when her team’s name was called:
“[It was] really exciting and also relieving because I mean it’s my last season so [I] want to make the most out of it,” said Hoffman. “[We’re] going in it now really strong and excited to get as far as possible.”
Hoffmann and her teammates seem to have moved on from their crushing loss on Friday night and now are looking ahead to the NCAA Tournament. SU Head Coach Ange Bradley said that while her team’s semifinal loss was disappointing, there’s a lot they can learn from that game.
“I just think it’s important to realize it’s a new season and the past is the past and what can you learn from it [to] use your knowledge to fuel the fire to be better,” Bradley said. “When you’re in the next situation as opposed to hanging on to what you didn’t do, it’s the past; you gotta reflect, change and grow.”
After a full week to, as Bradley says: ‘reflect, change and grow’, the Orange must be ready for a tough road ahead in the NCAA Tournament. It will all start on Friday afternoon for Syracuse as they’ll travel down to College Park, Mayland to face No. 4 Penn State (14-5, 6-2 Big Ten) in the first round. The Nittany Lions are a well-developed team led by Sophia Gladieux – an All-Big Ten Midfielder that’s accumulated 17 goals and 36 points on the season.
But before making the six-hour trip to Maryland, Bradley talked about what her team needs to do to get the win.
“Hopefully as we take the turf down there we have pride, we’re united and we’re relentless and when we do those things, that version of us, we will find excellence.”
Syracuse and Penn State will face off Friday at noon EST from College Park, Maryland. You can watch the game on B1G+ or follow my Twitter for live updates.
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