WSOC : Syracuse goes into Big East tournament confident in underdog role

first_imgPhil Wheddon warned all season long opposing Big East schools would be surprised at what Syracuse was capable of. The Orange head coach knew his team was better than its opponents thought.‘Everyone wrote us off,’ Wheddon said Oct. 18 as SU prepared for the regular-season finale against St. John’s last Friday. ‘… I think some teams still do. I think a lot of people are going to look at us and say it was a fluke, Syracuse got lucky. It’s not luck, it’s hard work on the ladies’ part.’Now Syracuse (7-7-3, 6-5 Big East) looks to keep surprising teams as it attempts to navigate its way through the Big East tournament, starting with Georgetown (14-5, 8-3) this Sunday at 1 p.m. in Washington, D.C., in the Big East quarterfinals. Although the Orange has no experience in postseason play and already lost to Georgetown earlier in the regular season, SU still believes it’s capable of beating the odds once again and moving on to the semifinals and finals in West Virginia.The last time Syracuse was in the Big East tournament was back in 2005. As a result, there isn’t a single player on this year’s roster who has played in a Big East tournament in their college career. The Orange is arguably the most inexperienced squad in the 10-team tournament.SU’s opponent, Georgetown, finished with the most regular-season wins in school history and has 19 players who were on the team’s roster last year who advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals in 2010. The difference in experience, though, doesn’t bother or concern Wheddon.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textIn fact, he’s encouraged by it.‘I think that can be a good thing,’ Wheddon said. ‘Sometimes there’s added pressure when you’ve already experienced something in the past.’And though this is foreign ground for players, it’s also unknown terrain for Wheddon. The fourth-year head coach will be roaming the sideline in a playoff match for the first time in his SU career.Wheddon said it’s imperative for him to stay grounded and be a calming presence for his players, unlike other coaches who might have the propensity to ‘freak out.’He said that some coaches allow their emotions to get the better of them, and they end up yelling and screaming orders. That lack of composure can put pressure on players on the field.‘The players should be excited to train,’ Wheddon said. ‘This week is about them. It’s not about the coaches.’Jenna Rickan, a junior forward, believes the team will be excited rather than nervous.Using the team’s lack of experience as a reason for any failures would only be an excuse, Rickan said.Rickan said though the Orange might be new to the postseason, it is familiar with a Georgetown squad that came into SU Soccer Stadium on Sep. 23 and topped Syracuse 3-1. SU had multiple scoring chances throughout the game, including one within the first five minutes, when Cecilia Borgstrom couldn’t capitalize on a one-on-one against Georgetown goalkeeper Elizabeth Hanna.Rickan said this time around, Syracuse has to cash in on its scoring opportunities.Junior midfielder Alyscha Mottershead said since that game the team has concentrated more on its attacking and defending inside the box. She also thinks that previous loss to Georgetown is one that will push them even more when the two meet Sunday.‘Just using the motivation that we lost to continue and go at them even harder than we did last time,’ Mottershead said.When Sunday finally approaches, Rickan thinks as long as the team goes into the match with the right mindset, a win is well within reach.But Syracuse can’t afford to be tentative in the early going even if the postseason is unfamiliar to the entire team.‘Just knowing that we deserve to be here and not being timid and coming out and just playing how we play, and we’ll come away with a win,’ Rickan said.And that’s what Wheddon hopes his team can do. He said in the playoffs, one bad bounce or slipup from a goalkeeper can change the entire game.Wheddon wants Syracuse to make its own luck. If the Orange can do that, then it can continue to exceed expectations.‘The sky’s the limit,’ Wheddon said. ‘When you get into a knockout situation anything can happen.’[email protected] Comments Published on October 25, 2011 at 12:00 pmcenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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