After loss to Virginia Tech, Adams remains adamant about program’s rebuild
Charlotte Little | Contributing Photographer
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As the final buzzer sounded on Syracuse’s season, Orange defender Zoe Van de Cloot collapsed on the field and laid on her back, exhausted. Despite a furious second-half comeback, SU lost its 11th consecutive game and dropped its conference record to 0-10.
Syracuse (4-12-1, 0-10 Atlantic Coast) lost to Virginia Tech (11-5-2, 5-3-2 Atlantic Coast) 2-1 to cap the second winless ACC campaign in four years. In nine years in the ACC, SU has never finished above 11th out of 14 teams. Although coach Nicky Adams was not happy with the team’s winless conference record, she applauded the Orange’s senior class, praised her young team’s resiliency and affirmed her excitement for the squad’s spring season.
On a team with dedicated seniors and a blossoming freshman class, it only made sense that senior Meghan Root and freshman Pauline Machtens shared the team’s lead in goals. Root secured the final goal of her Orange career against Virginia Tech. Root closed down Hokie goalkeeper Alia Skinner at the edge of the box, blocked her pass and chased down the rebound to tap it into the empty net for Syracuse’s only goal on the day. Adams called it a fitting cap to the forward’s college career.
“Not only are [the seniors] instrumental on the field, but off the field, they are the ones that have helped really cultivate the culture that we’re trying to create to be a championship program at Syracuse. And these things don’t happen overnight,” Adams said.
Although Adams said the seniors will be missed, she commended how her young team persevered through injuries to nearly every attacking player — many of the team’s veterans like Jenna Tivnan, Natalie Weidenbach and Root played hurt. SU’s rash of injuries forced players to play out of position, such as Kate Murphy, who played everywhere from center back to forward.
Due to injuries, SU got considerable playing time out of its 17 newcomers, especially its freshmen. Five different freshmen started at least 10 games, including Koby Commandant, who started every single match.
“So many of our players got tremendous experience that is only going to help us improve for the future,” Adams said.
Adams stressed how excited she is about working with the team in the spring season, which will be her first full spring season with the program. Adams was hired at the end of the 2019 spring season, meaning pandemic erased the Orange’s chances of a 2020 spring season, SU only played just eight games, all in the conference, in its 2020 fall campaign. And because the squad was limited to just six players in the spring of 2021, Syracuse was not able to field a team for the spring.
“I’ve been here two and a half years and I’ve yet to be able to work with my team that’s not under pressure to win games,”Adams said. “That’s not normal whatsoever.”
Adams said spring practices are valuable because the coaching staff can dissect play and provide more individualized instruction. She can also make more in-person recruiting visits with players and coaches, an aspect of recruiting she was limited in last spring because of COVID-19 restrictions.
“How are you going to rebuild a program when you can’t work with your players and you can’t recruit?” Adams said.
Adams said she was disappointed her team was unable to win an ACC contest and pointed out games against Louisville (2-1 loss), Wake Forest (2-0 loss), and NC State (3-0 loss) as opportunities the Orange could have secured a conference win. Syracuse only scored four goals in ten ACC games, which Adams attributed to SU’s depleted attacking corps. But despite her discontent with the team’s results, Adams reaffirmed her commitment to improving her team in the spring season.
“It’s been a whirlwind ever since I got here so that’s why I’m just so excited about this upcoming spring,” Adams said.
Published on October 29, 2021 at 12:16 am
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