Bradley’s 200th Career Win in an OT Thriller, thanks to a Superb Return from Webb
By Patrick Gunn
CitrusTV Field Hockey Beat Reporter
Syracuse head coach Ange Bradley and senior back Claire Webb both celebrated more than just another SU victory on Friday. Bradley had no idea that she was on the cusp of her 200th win with Syracuse. Webb got to face off against her younger sister, Caroline in her first game of the season after a hand injury kept her sidelined.
“It was everything,” Webb said after the game. “Everything was piling together. It was Ange’s 200th win, my first game back, we’re on Coyne. It was just, it was really far up there.”
Laura Graziosi scored her second game-winner of the season off a penalty corner in overtime as No. 23 Syracuse (4-1, 0-0 Atlantic Coast) rallied to defeat No. 14 St. Josephs’ (3-1, 0-0 Atlantic Ten) 2-1 at J.S. Coyne Stadium. This win highlighted more than just the adjustments that the Orange made following their first loss of the year. It showcased the relationship of a coach and a defender, who have worked together for the past four years.
Webb has been a staple in the locker room for the past three season. She was recognized as a part of the preseason all-ACC team, and against the Hawks, she was finally able to show off her strengths: leading the defense to another fantastic performance.
Webb gained a new perspective through her injury, and it was noticeable on the field. The senior did not miss a step all game, closely defending passes, bringing pressure, and communicating with her teammates with ease. Plus, her excitement to be back on the turf was clearly apparent.
“It was an amazing feeling,” Webb said. “I mean I hated every second of standing on the sideline, but like I said before I think it gave me good perspective it allowed me to kind of see the game from more of an outside perspective which I was able to bring in to now playing again. And it was just awesome to be out on the field.
Webb’s performance definitely threw off St. Joe’s. The Hawks had scored 15 goals in their first three games and featured five players with at least two goals. They also tallied 20 shots on goal through that span, not including shots that went wide. Against SU, SJU exited the field at the end of the first half with zero shots. They ended the game with only four shot with just two actually aimed at the goal.
These came from an Orange defense and midfield that was controlling the ball from the start of the game. Every time, a St. Joseph’s player had the ball, a Syracuse player was there to bring pressure. The Orange left very few passing lanes open, and Webb credits that to the team’s cohesiveness.
“I think we just had good pressure from all over the field,” Webb said. “Everybody was just doing their jobs, and when everybody does their jobs we do well as a unit so it was just hard, low pressure that just kind of threw them off.”
However, Webb’s leadership was only part of the equation. This game was the typical home win that Coach Bradley anticipated getting when she agreed to come to Syracuse.
“Winning on Coyne is something we’ve believed in,” Bradley said. “And, so, for the moment of 200 wins? No, but winning at Syracuse and building a winning program, yes, for sure.”
St. Joe’s was Syracuse’s first ranked opponent of the season, a familiar foe who beat the Orange last season, 5-2. With that game that still lingering over Bradley’s head and two former Syracuse players – Martu Loncarica and Liz Sack – coaching the Hawks, she easily forgot such a milestone was coming up.
Rather, Bradley stayed focused on the game, motivating her team and keeping their spirits high. By the end of the game, she could not stop herself from joining the celebration and jumping into the arms of her players.
“I was so proud of them,” Bradley said. “They stayed composed and gave up two corners with 38 seconds left and they were able to manage that. We dominated the game statistically and it’s like, okay, we’ve got to find a way, there’s no way we’re losing this game. Fortunately, we did, and I’m so proud of them.”
Bradley, Webb and company have little time to celebrate as the Orange travel to Lewisburg, Pennsylvania to face Bucknell on Sunday at noon.
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