Sarah Kinslow | Staff PhotographerField hockey
Balanced scoring attack propels Orange to victory over Ohio
Standing in a straight line and swinging clasped hands to the tune of the national anthem, the Syracuse Orange prepared for its home opener against Ohio.
United on the field before the game, the team connection translated to the field as five different Orange players found the back of the net in the team’s victory.
“Everybody is just happy for each other’s success. There’s not a real greed factor and you can see that in our scoring,” SU head coach Ange Bradley said. “We’re balanced in the way we attack, finish, and we play really good team hockey.”
That style of play led to an easy 6-0 win over the Bobcats at J.S. Coyne Stadium on Sunday. Freshman midfielder Gillian Pinder scored the first two goals of her collegiate career in the second half to seal the win for the Orange.
The Syracuse offense outshot Ohio 27-4 total as it won its first two games of the season. SU took a 3-0 lead into halftime and went ahead by five goals just five minutes into the second half.
Pinder, an Ireland native, played with poise in her second collegiate game and benefited from the SU offense’s crisp performance.
With two unassisted goals in the second half, Pinder’s shots came from the center of the attacking circle and off of a blocked shot.
She is one of seven freshmen to join the lineup this fall and one of eight players born outside of the United States. Aside from a balance scoring effort, Syracuse’s roster is filled with players from five different countries who all bring unique skillsets to the Orange’s offense. Freshman Emma Russell, who is also from Ireland, said the wide range of backgrounds increases Syracuse’s pace of play.
“It just brings the whole team into better shape and makes our game better,” Russell said. “It’s a strong point of Syracuse.”
Using that chemistry and conditioning, the Orange dominated a Bobcats team it expected to put up a fight against. Ohio went 19-5 and won the Mid-American Conference in 2011.
But the team was no match for the Orange on Sunday.
“From what the other girls were saying, they are a tough team, they are physical, and they are going to make it difficult for us,” Pinder said. “So, I mean, having such a convincing victory … makes it easier to move on throughout the season.”
The Orange plays No. 2 North Carolina on Saturday. The Tar Heels fell in the NCAA championship game to Maryland last season, and it will be SU’s first big test of the season.
“I think UNC next weekend is going to be a huge thing for the team, to be able to build from today up to next week,” Russell said. “I think it is going to be a great experience for all the new girls to be able to play such a big game.”
The team will also face eight regular-season opponents ranked in the Top 25 of the National Field Hockey Coaches Association preseason poll as well as other adjustments as a team.
“Learning what each individual player around me likes to do and be able to work off them would be the biggest adjustment, but the heat still tops it,” Pinder said.
The contribution of the group and the benefits of its diversity were on display Sunday. And it will likely be crucial to the Orange’s success the rest of the season.
Said Bradley: “We’re global, we’re a diverse organization, and it’s really fun to put individual differences together to become one strong unit.”
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