Syracuse Ends Losing Streak, Still Didn’t Score
By Tom Russo
CitrusTV Women’s Soccer Beat Reporter
Syracuse (2-4-1, 0-0 Atlantic Coast) didn’t lose today, but they still didn’t score, a theme that is becoming concerningly consistent.
For the fifth game in a row, the Orange failed to find the back of the net as they played to a 0-0 draw with Fordham (1-5-2, 0-0 Atlantic 10) on Sunday at SU Soccer Stadium. It has now been 18 days since Syracuse last scored a goal, and the offense’s disappearance prompted a change in strategy today.
The Orange abandoned the patient buildup early today and began aggressively launching the ball downfield to try and finally breakthrough.
“Toward the end, we wanted to press higher, and get the ball higher,” said forward Meghan Root. “That meant playing a more direct style.”
Fellow freshman Alex Panaggio echoed Root’s assessment that the Orange needed to push the ball forward as much as possible.
“I think we played a lot more direct today, just cause the conditions,” said Panaggio. “That’s how the game went; we had to press forward and try to get the ball in the back of the net.”
Coach Nicky Adams said it was a coordinated effort to try and get the ball moving forward as much as possible.
“I think it’s a combination of personnel and conditions,” said Adams. “We changed the second half to be much more direct because we were not combining well in the final third in the first half. So, I figured let’s put the other team under pressure, let’s get forward, and see if we can mix it up and come up with a new strategy. We put them under pressure and was able to get the ball upfield, and it gave us a bit more of an opportunity to score the ball.”
Syracuse had no shortage of opportunity to be sure, as the team launched a season-high 23 shots in the match. But only nine of them were actually on goal. The Orange also had a ton of chances on set pieces, attempting seven corner kicks in the first half alone and 12 in the match as a whole. But therein lied the problem, as SU failed to capitalize on any of them.
“We were trying to isolate our outside forwards to get them in one-v-one situations,” Adams said of the emphasis on getting corners. “We said before the game; we don’t feel Fordham’s that great on set pieces and corner kicks, so let’s get end line. I’m proud of the team for creating those opportunities, and we just gotta be more technical in the box, and we gotta finish them.”
Clearly, Syracuse’s offense remains a work-in-progress, and the baffling list of injuries is not helping matters. Three more key starters were out today: junior forward Sydney Brackett became the latest SU player on crutches, captain Georgia Allen is working her way through the concussion protocol, and sophomore swiss army knife Laurel Ness was also unavailable.
“We’re down to 13 eligible players,” said Adams. “So, I gotta play everybody. We’re putting in our third-string goalkeeper Santita [Ebangwese] up at the high forward.”
With the team running out of bodies, the practice has become incredibly difficult for the Orange.
“There’s a lot of work we have to do, but with a limited number of players, tactically, besides studying video and using our injured players as mannequins, and coaches putting on bibs and trying to play, I’m very limited in what I can do,” said Adams.
Syracuse can only hope at least some of those injured players will be able to return in time for the Orange’s ACC Opener in Pittsburgh (3-4-1, 0-0 Atlantic Coast) on Friday night.
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