Field Hockey

After record season, Syracuse will move to ACC needing to replace key senior leaders

Sarah Kinslow | Staff Photographer

Iona Holloway and Syracuse made it to the final four of the NCAA tournament, but fell to North Carolina 6-1. The Orange will need to fill the void of several key seniors as the team moves to the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Syracuse played its way into the record books throughout the 2012 season.

The Orange got off to the second-best start in program history, going undefeated through 12 games before an upset loss to Massachusetts. It helped head coach Ange Bradley earn her 100th win, making her the second-fastest coach in Syracuse history to do so. The team also went 10-2 against ranked opponents, including two regular-season wins against then-top-three teams.

The Orange ultimately fell short of its goal to win an NCAA championship and finished the season with a 19-3 record. SU’s season came to an end in the final four with a loss to top-seeded North Carolina.

Bradley said she was happy with the effort and play of the team as a whole.

“They all have a really good work ethic, which makes them a joy to coach,” Bradley said.

Bradley looks forward to next year, but she will have her work cut out for her with seniors Kelsey Millman, Leann Stiver, Amy Kee, Iona Holloway, Haley Bomboy and graduate student Liz McInerney moving on.

Recruiting has kept the Orange in national contention in recent seasons, and now Syracuse will continue that legacy in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

In the ACC, SU will meet the Tar Heels and other national powerhouses in Maryland and Virginia. That will not be an easy task, but Bradley said she believes in her young team.

In the Orange’s final year in the Big East, it won the regular-season title, but fell to Connecticut in the conference tournament championship game. Defensive back Iona Holloway said the loss might have helped the team in the long run.

“I think that loss kind of put things in perspective for us and reminded us of what we’ve been working so hard for,” Holloway said.

The younger players on the team got the best of both worlds in terms of practice for the future. They experienced the joys of a huge winning streak, the anxiousness associated with playing in the NCAA tournament and the heartbreak of losing in the final four.

Overall, the Orange had a great year despite coming up two games short of winning the championship.

“I’m proud of the girls, the seniors, everybody,” Bradley said.

The seniors were happy to make a deep run into the tournament in their final season. It also sets the tone as the program moves into the ACC.

“We are putting that first step in the door for all the younger players,” said Stiver, SU’s goaltender.

Stiver was the backbone of the Orange defense all season. She helped the team outscore its opponents by 56 goals and finished the year with eight shutouts.

Stiver and her veteran teammates were at the heart of another successful season that ended with the program’s second-ever trip to the final four.

Said Bradley: “I’m honored to have worked with them.”

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