SU women’s soccer looks to follow through in execution in matches with Albany, Binghamton

first_img Published on September 9, 2010 at 12:00 pm Facebook Twitter Google+ This weekend, when facing Albany and Binghamton, Syracuse will have to remember how to slow the game down. Because last weekend, while facing Washington and Portland, the occasional lack of focus was the biggest trip-up in what was otherwise a solid showing against two of the top schools in the country. That was clear to SU head coach Phil Wheddon. ‘It was a great performance,’ Wheddon said. ‘We hit the cross bar with three minutes left. It could have gone in the goal, and probably should have. We know we can play with the best teams in the country. It’s just a case of replicating that on a daily basis.’ Both the Syracuse players and coaching staff were well prepared to face their highly ranked West Coast competition in last weekend’s Nike Invitational, despite coming away on the negative side of a 7-1 aggregate in the two games. Even with the 4-0 loss to Washington and a 3-1 loss to No. 4 Portland, SU remains confident, mainly because of two facets of its game. Considering SU was using a new formation, while still auditioning two newcomers at goalkeeper, Syracuse played well. But it was a matter of failing to maintain the game plan that the Orange knew how to execute that eventually did the team in.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text ‘I challenged the players to stay organized and stay disciplined,’ Wheddon said. ‘But the goals that they scored on us were not goals where they broke us down, per se. It was individual mistakes that led to the goals.’ Six games into the season, the Orange, a team that boasts only two seniors, is rightfully still learning how to play together as a team. After facing a top-five team already this year, it is quickly becoming apparent that it will take a Zen-like approach to focus during key situations this year. Skylar Sabbag, a sophomore transfer from Central Michigan in her first year with the Orange, has already recognized the sense for urgency in big matches. ‘We always have to be on,’ Sabbag said. ‘Because that one second you’re not focused the other team will capitalize. A nationally-ranked team knows. They’ll capitalize on your mistakes.’ Syracuse won’t be playing a nationally ranked team this weekend in Albany or Binghamton, but it will find the challenge of two in-state rivals. ‘Playing against a local team, it’s almost like a battle for supremacy in New York state,’ Wheddon said. ‘After playing against those teams, and with the performance we put in, we just have to do the same thing we did and I’m sure we’ll be successful.’ Albany is riding a three-game win streak, while Binghamton – 2-3 on the season – is coming off of a 3-0 victory over Bucknell. Albany’s three consecutive wins mark their longest such streak since becoming a Division I program. Its 2009 team posted its highest single-season win total in 21 years with an overall record of 8-10-1. Binghamton, a more traditional soccer powerhouse, has advanced to the America East championship semifinals three straight seasons and last won in 2004. Recent success aside, Syracuse has fared well against the two New York schools, going a combined 8-1-1 since 2002. Still, sophomore midfielder Brielle Heitman, among others on the team, understands where Syracuse stands at this point in the season and where SU is headed. ‘We’re working on taking the extra time to do things’, Heitman said. ‘In the Washington game, we had two set plays that we should have defended better on. Which we obviously practiced a bunch of times: ‘You need to defend! You need to defend!’ I think it’s just early in the season.’ Last weekend, players didn’t talk enough. Others didn’t do what they were told to do. And for the most part, SU was working harder as individuals than as teammates. Are those things that can be cleaned up in time for this weekend’s intrastate matchups? SU thinks so. As long as it slows everything down to an SU pace. And harnesses the ‘little things.’ ‘Absolutely,’ Heitman said. ‘Those are the little things. I think that everybody has an off day, and that just happened to be ours. And once you get it over with, it’s done. Move forward from there.’ [email protected]center_img Commentslast_img

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