Worrying Start for SU Women’s Soccer

Thursday, Sep 07, 2023 at 11:58 am by Sports Editor

       Hudson Ridley | Syracuse Women’s Soccer Beat Reporter

    Over the last few years Syracuse Women’s soccer has had one constant theme, improvement. In three of Nicky Thrasher Adams’ first four years at the helm, the Orange finished at least eight games under .500 in two of them. That’s when the climb of SU’s rollercoaster story started. After a complete turn around in 2022 that saw Syracuse finish 8-7-3, it seemed like a new promising future was beginning to form. The combination of young talents like Grace Gillard, Erin Flurey and Shea Vanderbosch, mixed with leadership from veterans like Aysia Cobb and Hannah Pilley, all mixed together to create a good deal of hope for the 2023 season. However, it really has been anything but.

    The Orange have opened up their season at 2-4, all in non-ACC play. That ties the worst start in non-conference play since Thrasher Adams took over the program. So after everything positive surrounding the team coming into the season, what happened? The struggles for SU can be boiled down into two main problems. A lack of offensive identity and a lack of possession.

     The offensive mindset for Syracuse has changed a bit throughout the season. Early on the Orange seemed content with peppering the net from outside the 18-yard box. On paper this was a great way to utilize SU’s strengths and weaknesses, especially in the case of Erin Flurey. The redshirt Sophomore can strike from distance, with her lone goal on the season coming nearly 30 yards away from net. That being said, Nicky Adams’ squad hasn’t necessarily demonstrated the break away speed to get in behind the back line.

    An offense solely based around shots from distance isn’t particularly sustainable, especially against teams with high pedigrees. Part of what guided SU to its first winning season in over a decade, was the combination of strength and speed from the now graduated Chelsea Domond, mixed with the strong technical play of Erin Flurey. Without a solidified speed threat up top defenders have resorted to tightly marking Flurey, who has had her potential breakout season limited by this. Adams’ attempted to move Flurey all around the field in games like Auburn and Binghamton. While the forward aided in strengthening the midfield, it left a pretty sizable lack of firepower up top.

     In SU’s last matchup with Cornell the Orange only recorded two shots on goal, neither of which found the back of the net. Five of the six goals that the ‘Cuse has scored this season have come from two games against Binghamton and Sienna. The fact that SU has been held to a clean sheet in half its games is no doubt surprising. Especially after the Orange came in with such a hot offensive start in exhibition matches tallying nine goals over two games. Syracuse’s other main fault is a lack of possession in most games. Without the speed to launch a real counter attack possession becomes critical. The Orange haven’t had a clear majority of possession against any opponent outside of Sienna. Even against a Binghampton team that consistently struggles against SU, the Orange couldn’t grab a hold of the possession or tempo of the match.

    The good news for Syracuse is that the defense has held together. The strong and aggressive play from Alyssa Abrahamson, Grace Gillard and keeper Shea Vanderbosch, has kept the Orange in matches even when the offense doesn’t produce. In SU’s 1-0 loss to Cornell the defense played so well that even with two shots on target all game the ‘Cuse still had a fighting chance till the final whistle. Syracuse only has two more matches before the ACC slate starts. Meaning that it’s incredibly important to sort of an offensive style and identity before it’s too late. The Orange only have three conference wins in the last four years. Even in the program’s first winning season since 2012, SU went 1-5-3 in conference play. But now with a challenging start to non-conference play the Orange may need to reevaluate if they want to stay out of the basement of the ACC. SU’s next matchup with Harvard is slated for Thursday, September 7th. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. You can follow @hudson_ridley and CitrusTvSports on X and threads for all your Syracuse Women’s soccer updates.