Full fall ball gives Syracuse a head start after 2018’s struggles

first_img Comments Published on February 11, 2019 at 9:34 pm Contact KJ: [email protected] | @KJEdelman Sam Swart couldn’t take it anymore. She had spent four years waiting to play Syracuse lacrosse, and 2017’s fall ball would be her first opportunity in Orange. But that was ripped away from her and the rest of SU. She couldn’t play lacrosse, swipe into team facilities and had limited contact with her teammates.So one day during the isolation, the freshman ran toward the back of Ensley Athletic Center. She hopped a fence to get on a multipurpose field. When Swart made it on the turf, she remembered thinking to herself: “I need to be on the field, it’s everything I live for.”Last season, the majority of Syracuse’s fall ball season was cancelled due to a mumps outbreak between the men’s and women’s lacrosse teams. The Orange missed out on extra practices, tournaments and team bonding opportunities. Syracuse rushed into the 2018 season, and in result, it posted its first losing season in program history. Head coach Gary Gait said there was a correlation.After a “weird season” that began with mumps and ended with a 9-10 record, No. 11 Syracuse (1-0) went back to its normal schedule this fall. And its performance on Friday against Connecticut in the first eight minutes showed the importance of the early season prep it lacked last season.“Not having fall ball last year wasn’t the best,” junior Emily Hawryschuk said. “But now we have a feeling of how we work together. We have that mesh.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textLast year’s team was met with a formal meeting and emails about a suspension of fall ball. They had to FaceTime their tutors instead of meeting with them in person. Swart and goalkeeper Hannah Van Middelem got a gym membership at Planet Fitness to stay active, keeping a “pact” with each other to stay ready for their eventual debut.Susie Teuscher | Digital Design EditorIn the beginning of January, SU traveled to Florida to train after receiving a NCAA waiver that allowed them to begin practice two weeks early. At times, Syracuse’s early games felt like the beginning of fall ball, Gait said. It opened its season down two goals in the first half against a less superior opponent in Connecticut and struggled until the second half started.In close games, the Orange didn’t have the “mesh” to finish. It went 2-5 in one-goal games and dropped three of four overtime contests. “We were definitely not playing our best lacrosse,” Gait said.“When every other team in the country has fall, it’s weird for us,” Hawryschuk said on Jan. 22. “It’s weird going together the first couple of weeks in the fall then just having it taken away from us.”In the 2018 preseason, sophomores like Swart and Molly Carter were experiencing the fall action for the first time. The focus was on basics, getting rid of “sloppy play,” Gait said. The team wanted to cover simple things like draw control and clears while Gait struggled to teach his team how to finish.“It’s the building blocks of your season,” senior defender Alexa Radziewicz said. “Just having that extra time as a team. On the bus, traveling, getting to understand them on field.”On Friday, Syracuse remembered the way it started against UConn the season before. Gait called it a reflection of its season as a whole. The 2019 season-opener would be different.SU’s midfielders swarmed UConn high, and when they were beat, enough defenders dropped to stifle the Huskies’ attack. Offensively, midfielders spaced around the net and gave each other room to operate. They made easy passes, resulting in higher percentage chances.Its eight-goal outburst in eight minutes, which topped UConn’s offensive production all game (6), was a realization for what Syracuse could become, Gait said, with ample time and preparation this time around.“We actually had a chance to look at each other and see what we could do,” Hawryschuk said. “It’s refreshing.”center_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img