Syracuse has improved its defense even after the end of its shutout streak

first_imgAfter 541 minutes and a program record seven-straight shutouts to start the season, Syracuse finally allowed a goal. Then-No. 16 Wake Forest finally found the back of SU’s net on Sept. 16. Even while SU’s defense impressed on paper, the defenders themselves weren’t content.“Honestly, our defense can be way better still. We still need to keep working on it,” said Roos Weers, a junior back, after the seventh shutout came against Albany on Sept. 10. “Against ACC teams that have a little bit more speed than Albany I think we’re still not good enough so we need to keep working on that.”No. 12 Syracuse (12-5, 2-4 Atlantic Coast) has since tied another program record after shutting out No. 24 Pacific on Sunday, getting its 11th shutout of the season. Since the seven clean sheets in seven games, SU has had four in its last 10. Even though the Orange has blanked fewer opponents, Syracuse’s defenders feel like the defense has improved from the beginning of the season. The Orange’s shutout rate has declined as its opponents have become stronger.During the shutout streak, just three of Syracuse’s seven opponents were ranked at the time SU played them: No. 25 Pacific, No. 8 Boston College and No. 21 Albany. In the ensuing 10 games, eight of the Orange’s opponents have been ranked, including three in the Top 10.“All the ACC teams are so good, every ACC team can beat each other,” Lies Lagerweij, a senior back, said after the shutout streak ended against Wake Forest.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAndy Mendes | Digital Design EditorThe improvement defensively may have shown itself best in a loss. When then-No. 4 Virginia came to J.S. Coyne Stadium on Oct. 14, the Cavaliers led the nation with 5.38 goals per contest. That day, UVA scored just two in a one-goal victory. UVA’s leading scorers, Tara Vittese and Pien Dicke, came to Syracuse ranking first and third in the country in goals, respectively, averaging well over one a game.Each scored that day, but just once, and the Orange held UVA more than three goals below its season average. Heading into that game, SU defender Claire Webb had discussed an emphasis on double teams against the Cavaliers lethal duo. Weers felt that since the early season comments about defensive improvements being necessary, that’s an area where the team has grown.In SU’s last three games, its defense has taken on a different look than it had for most of the season. Against Drexel on Oct. 15, the Orange played Lies Lagerweij, an All-American back, at forward. Then, a week later at Penn, she sat out with an undisclosed injury. And last Saturday against No. 24 Pacific, Lagerweij played a majority of her minutes at forward again. She’d been a part of the backline most of the season but with the position shift and injury, other players have featured more as backs.Freshman midfielder Florine Hogendoorn played center back at Penn, a game in which the Orange surrendered three goals in regulation for the only time this season. Annalena Ulbrich played the bulk of the center back minutes in the second game against Pacific.Bradley felt that the team’s biggest improvement has come in communicating and understanding lines of pressure better. When the defenders are on the same page in how they press, she said, it prevents the opposition from getting in behind SU’s defense. Senior midfielder Laura Hurff said that a big gain has come in preventing the ball from getting behind the backline.“I think we’ve been working hard to just try and keep people out of our 25 and keeping them out of our circle entries,” Hurff said. “And I think that’s improved greatly from the beginning of the season to now.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on October 30, 2017 at 9:57 pm Contact Billy: [email protected] | @Wheyen3last_img

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