Syracuse’s top-ranked offense fueled by scoring throughout the lineup

first_img Published on February 26, 2018 at 9:28 pm Contact Michael: mmcclear@syr.edu | @MikeJMcCleary Riley Donahue often brushes off opportunities to talk up her scoring abilities. Coming into the season, she was supposed to be a problem for opposing defenses. After Donahue led the Orange in goals a season ago, many expected 2018 to bring much of the same. But, in the preseason, all she could talk about was her team.“Offense is everywhere,” she said of her team more than two weeks prior to SU’s season-opening matchup against Connecticut.To this point, her team-first tendencies have proven to be right. Donahue, with three goals so far this season, ranks ninth on her team in scoring. But, the number is not a result of Donahue’s struggles.No. 7 Syracuse (3-0) continues to get scoring throughout its lineup to power its top-ranked offense. The Orange are tied with Vanderbilt with an NCAA-leading 19.67 goals per game. Many on Syracuse expect the scoring to be a common thread as the depth and constant substitutions by SU have consistently provided the opportunities for players to score.“We definitely are a threat,” attack Nicole Levy said. “We will have a long list of scorers.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe Orange has had no trouble with scoring in the early going. In SU’s first three games of the season, the fewest number of players to score in a game was nine against Oregon. In Syracuse’s other two matchups — versus Connecticut and Albany — SU had 12 different goal scorers in each game.Syracuse’s diverse attack features many multi-goal scorers. Against the Huskies, the Orange had six players score two or more goals, with four of those players registering three or more goals in the game. The output was similar against Oregon, when Syracuse had six two-plus goal scorers and two three-plus goal scorers.That is in slight contrast to some of the Orange’s season opener last year. In the 2017 debut against eventual-national champion Boston College, SU only had four players score more than two goals with eight of its 18 total goals coming from two players.Levy cautioned that the high-scoring games won’t necessarily continue as Syracuse’s schedule becomes tougher, but she still thinks the Orange will get contributions from many different players.When asked if the high scoring numbers are a result of the multitude of lineups the Orange use, SU head coach Gary Gait grinned.“Yeah,” Gait quipped, “we play a lot of players.”But Gait doesn’t attribute the scoring to any new game plan. He instead has noticed that the attacking style of his midfielders is creating a more “balanced” scoring group.“I think we’re almost even for the first time in a long time,” Gait said “Our middies and attack are scoring almost at the same pace.”This year, the Orange has gotten 28 goals from its midfield compared to 31 from the attack. That’s 9.33 goals per game from the midfield. Comparatively, last season the Orange only got 4.81 goals per game from its midfield as three attacks dominated SU’s goals leaderboard.The midfielders are starting to notice the difference. With the quick lineup changes and free movement, it’s easier for midfielders to make it up and down the field, which creates for more opportunities, junior midfielder Neena Merola said.Freshman Sam Swart is seeing the opportunities early in her SU career, as well. Tied with three people for fifth on SU’s scoring list, the midfielder went as far to make a prediction that “everyone will evenly play, evenly score.” While it remains to be seen whether or not that will hold true, Gait seems to be keen on the idea of having midfielders contribute more to Syracuse’s offensive production.“We’ve been, in the past, attack-driven,” Gait said. “Now, I think the middies are really coming into their own and starting to step it up.”As SU’s scoring evolves, it’s finding the win column frequently. SU’s presumed scoring leader in the preseason, Donahue, isn’t dominating the way she did last year, but so far she hasn’t had to.She’s just glad to see her preseason prediction come full circle.“It’s great to see,” Donahue said. “It’s great to go out there and really put everything together.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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