Luke Rafferty | Staff PhotographerWomen's Soccer
Syracuse looks to build winning streak after up-and-down start to season
The Syracuse women’s soccer team’s season thus far can best be described as consistently inconsistent.
The Orange (4-4-1) has yet to win, lose or tie more than one game in a row all season — a statistic that shows both the team’s ability to shake off a loss as well as its inability to build off of a victory.
“We’re still trying to get that winning mentality and it’s getting there,” junior goalkeeper Brittany Anghel said. “But it’s not quite there and it’s something that we’re working on in our culture, to be a winning team and come out consistently. So I don’t know if we’ve imposed our game plan each and every game.”
Over the weekend, the Orange beat Connecticut for the first time ever, arguably the biggest win in program history. But Sunday’s 2-1 loss to Providence served as a reminder that there is still a lot of work to be done if the Orange wants to finish its last Big East season strong.
“We’re better than half the teams we play,” said junior defender Jackie Moriarty. “When we score, we kind of go, ‘Oh, we scored’ instead of ‘Oh, we scored, let’s get another one,’ so it’s just focus.”
The Providence game was SU’s third loss this season in which the Orange has let in the deciding goal after the 70th minute — something head coach Phil Wheddon has tried to work on in practice.
“The longer you let teams hang around in games, they’re going to punish you,” Wheddon said. “Providence played well. As the head coach, I take the blame for it. We need to educate our players and make sure our players are aware of how to play when we’re up a goal, and how to deal with adverse situations.”
Wheddon said Providence changed its formation in the second half and that he didn’t do a good-enough job helping the players adjust to the switch.
For Moriarty, instilling confidence in each other as teammates is the key to maintaining a level head.
“When they do something good, encourage them to do that particular thing well, and then if they do something wrong, kind of just be like, ‘Hey, you can do better than that, we know you can do better.” Just build their confidence,” she said.
The team has made an extra effort this week to be able to react and adapt during the course of a game, and ultimately the season. Wheddon said the team did a “chalk talk” this week in which the head coach described what he’s expecting from the players in different situations.
“We talked about finishing under pressure, which we did today, and then putting it together at the end with our attack vs. defense,” he said. “Trying to make sure we’re number one: creating opportunities, and number two: at least forcing goalkeepers to make saves.”
Any success on defense begins with the goalie — something Anghel understands in her third year as keeper.
“Some of it is our shape and just keeping that high line and making sure I’m coming off my line to gobble up anything else that gets by,” she said.
She is also aware of the importance of communication on defense.
“When you hear your own teammates talking to you, it kind of just encourages and keeps that energy up,” she said.
Despite the ups and downs this season, Wheddon remains confident as his team embarks on another road trip this weekend against conference foes Louisville and Cincinnati.
“I love this team,” he said. “They continue to work hard and they know, having beaten UConn, that they can beat any team, so going into this weekend, we’re looking to go 2-0.”
Contact Jack: email@example.com
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