Syracuse advances to NCAA tournament final with 3-1 win over Connecticut

first_img Published on November 20, 2015 at 1:57 pm Contact Sam: sjfortie@syr.edu | @Sam4TR ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Syracuse wasted no time Friday in forcing Connecticut to play a game in which it couldn’t keep up.Two minutes in, the Orange’s attack forced a penalty corner. Alma Fenne gathered the errant insertion two yards behind the arc, looked left and right before winding up. Her shot from the top of the circle found the wooden backing at the bottom of the goal. It gave Syracuse a quick 1-0 advantage.“We came right at ‘em,” SU head coach Ange Bradley said. “… (Coming out fast) was a major point of emphasis for us in our team prep to … control the momentum.”The aggressive play at the outset allowed the Orange to dictate tempo, forcing Connecticut out of its comfort zone. Bradley focused on starting strong, she said, because she knows UConn likes to score early. She learned in SU’s 1-0 loss in the 2014 national championship that after scoring, UConn gained control and dropped back in stifling defense.But Connecticut never got the chance to drop back.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThree-hundred and fifty two days after its national title hopes were shattered by the Huskies, this time it was Syracuse (20-1, 6-0 Atlantic Coast) ousting previously undefeated Connecticut (22-1, 5-0 Big East), 3-1, in the do-or-die tournament and advance to the national championship game.“I didn’t care who we played,” said Fenne, who did not play in last season’s NCAA tournament  loss. “… (But) I can imagine some of the girls have a very good feeling (by beating UConn).”Though SU gained an early 1-0 advantage, it didn’t pack down in a Connecticut-style defense. The Orange remained on the offensive, using one of its backs to push up the field. Zoe Wilson rushed forward on offense all afternoon, distributing to the midfielders and seeding far passes up to forwards.The push paid off when forward Emma Russell corralled a long, lofted pass from midfielder Laura Hurff. Russell dribbled in on the left side and poked the ball past Connecticut goalie Nina Klein 20 minutes into the first half.“We played the ball forward into our midfield and forward line and let them do the pretty work,” Wilson said.Down 2-0, the Huskies pushed harder, attempting longer passes and rushes without a number advantage. Backs Lies Lagerweij, Roos Weers and Wilson played tight defense or aggressively stepped up to intercept passes.The Huskies struggled to counter SU’s back line. Connecticut scored its only goal on a penalty stroke. In four second-half penalty corners, SU goalkeeper Jess Jecko made lunging saves on two and her defenders blocked the other pair of shots.After Wilson stopped UConn’s shot on its third second-half corner, she made a long-hit up the sideline to Russell.Russell dribbled up the field with Fenne on her right side. Russell feinted a drive toward the left side of the goal and Klein dove forward — just as Syracuse expected. The Orange had seen the tendency in film study throughout the week and used Klein’s aggressiveness against herself. After coaxing her out of position, Russell slid a pass to Fenne, who scored her second goal with 10 minutes remaining.The speed at which Syracuse advanced the ball, a facet of SU’s game Bradley said it honed in ACC play throughout the season, was another difference which led to the win.“(Connecticut hasn’t) played that kind of speed in their schedule throughout the season,” Bradley said.The aggression Friday was one of SU’s focuses heading into the NCAA tournament. Bradley and multiple players said it was an unenergetic first frame that chalked up SU’s loss in the ACC championship game.In the postgame press conference, Fenne sat red-cheeked and smiling, her two goals the difference on the afternoon.“(Connecticut put) really hard pressure on us,” Fenne said. “But we were able to play out of it.“… I don’t care who we play in the finals. We’re going to get the national championship here.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more