Syracuse Taught Several Hard Lessons against Princeton
By Patrick Gunn
CitrusTV Field Hockey Beat Reporter
STORRS, Conn. – Throughout this season, Syracuse Field Hockey has been able to withstand strong offensive teams thanks to a strong back line. Their defense, led by senior back Claire Webb and goalkeeper Sarah Sinck, have stymied some of the best teams in the nation thanks to a defense that has consistently bent against great teams but not broken.
However, with a young team in the NCAA Tournament, the Orange’s flaws needed to be tightened up in order to advance. And Syracuse finally broke against the Tigers. A wild third quarter that featured three Princeton goals led the Tigers (14-4, 7-0 Ivy League) to a massive, 5 to 1 win over Syracuse (12-7, 3-3 Atlantic Coast) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Tiger’s vaunted attack was as strong as advertised, scoring the most points off the Orange this season, and Syracuse has failed to win a tournament game for the third straight season. The loss should not overshadow a young team that fought all season long that will continue to be a threat in the NCAA for seasons to come.
This time however, the mature Tigers team was victorious. Princeton outshot Syracuse 12 to seven, while outshooting the Orange 10 to 6 on shots on goal and had two more corner chances than the Orange. That margin does not express how strong the Tiger’s attack was over the first three quarters. Aside from a brief stretch in the second frame, Princeton completely controlled the pace of play from the midfield forward, continuously pressuring the Orange at the start of the game.
And, unlike Syracuse’s earlier opponents, the Tigers took advantage of this pressure. Hannah Davey knocked one past Sinck on a penalty corner, while the Tiger’s leading scorer Clara Roth took one herself down the field to give Princeton a 2-0 lead going into the break.
Princeton would not relent in the third quarter, as they pounced on a tired Syracuse defense for three goals. Two goals would come in a span of less than a minute and a half. Roth and Davey added two more goals to their stat lines, and all of a sudden, Syracuse was facing its largest deficit of the season. Sarah Sinck has kept the Orange in many games this season, but this time she was unable to stop a vicious attack.
The Orange did show their resilience at the end of the third quarter, with Chiara Gutsche scoring on a penalty corner to put SU on the board. Syracuse caught another break at the end of the frame, as a video deferral gave Syracuse a last-second chance. That would be the last break the Orange would get, as a Charlotte de Vries goal was called invalid by the referees, and Syracuse would be unable to score for the rest of the game.
The loss may sting for a while, but Syracuse opened a lot of eyes this season. They held top-five teams in Duke, North Carolina, UConn, and Louisville down all season thanks to leadership from senior Claire Webb and a superb season from Sinck in net. Given their conference’s high level of play, Syracuse held steady for much of the season.
In addition, this was an extremely young team, with eight freshmen and 14 underclassmen that had never played in an NCAA Tournament game before because Syracuse missed the big dance last year. Head Coach Ange Bradley has preached all-season long that this team is about growth and building a winner. Syracuse has the pieces in forward Charlotte de Vries, Sinck in net, and an influx of youth mixed with solid veterans to make a run next year.
The Orange might have had to get humbled today to make that leap.