SU will look to defense to stay undefeated against Rutgers, Princeton on road trip
Defense wins games — something Syracuse knows well.
Week after week, the team has stifled opponents with its pesky defense and there’s no sign of letting up anytime soon.
The team watches the tapes of previous games to correct mistakes and make changes. That’s helped the No. 2 Orange stay undefeated and improve its overall team performance.
“We were really disappointed with the two goals we gave up against Villanova on Friday,” Iona Holloway said of the team’s 5-2 win against the Wildcats. “Looking back at the videotape, I think we lost a bit of concentration.”
The Orange (7-0) is focused on getting back on track defensively when it heads to New Jersey to play Big East opponent Rutgers (4-4) on Friday.
The team has only allowed six goals all season. But that accomplishment will be tested when Syracuse takes on the fast-paced offense of Princeton (6-0), who’s tied with SU at No. 2, on Sunday.
Even though the Orange got the win against Villanova, it’s always looking for ways to improve its particular style of defense.Syracusemakes sure to play with aggressiveness, but with control at the same time — a feat not easily achieved.
“We play a tight defense and try to give as few fouls as possible, and I think all of us working together has been fairly solid,” Holloway said.
The team believes it is the hard work of each player and its commitment to defense that has allowed its winning streak to continue.
“We worked really hard in the preseason to increase the amount of communication that’s going on in the back,” Holloway said. “Leann Stiver obviously has been playing in the goal pretty much since her freshman season, so she has a lot of experience back there, which helps.”
When asked how the defense is able to work so well within the game, each player credited the next.
“I think it’s our strong communication; it really isn’t one set person or unit,” Stiver said. “It really is a team effort on defense.”
As electrifying as SU’s offense has been in helping the team overcome its toughest opponents, Stiver said it is the defense that should be attributed with the winning streak.
“Defense plays a huge role in our team winning games,” she said. “The offense is putting in goals, but we have to be able to counteract the opposing teams’ offenses to make sure they don’t come out with the win.”
With each week, the undefeated streak seems to grow, but the Orange tries not tot let its ranking and status as one of the nation’s elite teams affect the way it plays.
“I do think we have a target on our back as the No. 2 team, but I think our defense and our offense are more worried about their individual parts,” Stiver said. “We just need to go out there and play our game.”
Even though people are already talking about the Princeton matchup on Sunday, the team is not getting ahead of itself. Each opponent brings a different style of offense, and SU wants to be ready for each game as it comes.
“We take one game at a time,” head coach Ange Bradley said. “Our focus is Rutgers first; we have to be able to play and execute against them, then prepare for our matchup on Sunday.”
And it all starts with the defense.
“We’re looking to come out this weekend with some shutouts,” Stiver said. “That’s always our goal.”
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