By Rob NugentPOCOLA, Okla. (June 18) – Tate Cole took another Xtreme Motor Sports IMCA Modified checkered flag Saturday at Tri-State Speedway, this time ahead of H. Palmer and Jake Davis.Ken McCarty notched IMCA SportMod victory number three in as many weeks, with Dennis Slader in second and Caden Ellis third.
Chiara Gutsche sensed the pass coming, and began to inch toward midfield. As the clock neared five minutes in overtime, Gutsche crept up from the defensive end and made her move.Moments earlier, fans had called out “Drop Char,” yearning for Charlotte de Vries, SU’s star freshman, to cut off the angle across the field. She didn’t, so the St. Joseph’s defender sent the pass from left to right. Gutsche and de Vries locked eyes, and Gutsche knew she had to step into the passing lane. She intercepted it in stride, and sprinted toward the SJU cage, securing another turnover for SU’s defenders. That sequence ended with Laura Graziosi’s game-winning goal — when she ripped the ball into the back of the cage after a penalty corner insertion — and sealed No. 23 Syracuse’s (4-1) 2-1 overtime win over No. 14 St. Joseph’s (3-1) Friday night. The Orange midfield consistently broke up St. Joseph’s attacks in the middle-third and stifled rushes that neared the crease in the back end. Sometimes, the steal came on the initial pass. Other times, they interrupted the stick-handling that followed. But behind a thorough defensive effort, Syracuse limited tense moments for goalies Syd Taylor and Sarah Sinck, and created enough offensive opportunities to knock off the Hawks.“We just had good pressure from all over the field, everybody was just doing their jobs,” senior Claire Webb, who played for the first time this year, said. “And when everybody does their jobs, we play well as a unit.”It was the complete performance that SU had lacked thus far. During its first four games, offensive dominance and defensive containment had flashed but rarely meshed. Against Vermont and UMass Lowell, SU escaped with wins. Against Lafayette, two early goals allowed by Sarah Sinck overshadowed prominent chances in the Leopards’ end. And against Cornell, those lapses resulted in an upset loss. AdvertisementThis is placeholder textHead coach Ange Bradley said Webb’s return brought composure, and the senior replaced freshman Olivia Graham at center back, the defense’s anchor. Bradley also started Taylor for the first time in net, but she never needed to dive to one side or knock away balls with knee pads — the Hawks tallied zero shots in the first half. Junior Sarah Luby, midfielder Claire Cooke and Gutsche spearheaded a middle that swarmed SJU’s passes and chopped balls away, leading to counter-attacks and eliminating lanes for SJU rushes.“We played really together and compact, moved the ball quick and around, always try to open new and more holes,” Carolin Hoffmann said.At times, the turnovers created favorable opportunities in the other end. SJU’s midfielder Cassidy Atchison pushed the ball to the edge of the field and centered a pass into the crease, but Webb sent it in the other direction before another stick could poke it toward the cage. Cooke maintained possession midway through the first quarter, although her long pass intended for Gutsche sailed harmlessly out of bounds and returned control to the Hawks. Had that pass connected, Gutsche would’ve had an odd-man rush at the net.But those plays prevented disaster in the defensive end. With de Vries and her six goals patrolling the offensive zone, a pass on a counter-attack to her stick could end in scoring chances. Leading up to SU’s first goal, Luby poked the ball away to Gutsche and initiated a rush. At the sequence’s end, de Vries backed up St. Joseph’s freshman Kate Blincoe before spinning around and finishing with a reverse hit to give Syracuse a 1-0 lead.“We just kept playing our style of game,” Hoffmann said, “just didn’t even think about what [the Hawks] were doing.”With a one-goal lead, the Orange attempted to slow down the pace early in the second half. When Webb and Graham would corral passes near the crease, they’d simply rotate the ball until an SJU defender pressed hard enough. Then, once the ball progressed into the midfielders’ territory, they too circled it around. First Graham, then to Webb, over to sophomore SJ Quigley, and then back again.Even when St. Joseph’s struck off a penalty corner in the 35th minute, when Emily Peters dropped to the right post and finished in an open net, it wasn’t from a defensive breakdown, Bradley said. Rather, the game-tying tally resulted from the Hawks finding a successful angle off the insert, finding a location where all Taylor could do was watch from the opposite post as the white sphere pounded the back of the cage. “It’s a guessing game,” Bradley said of defending penalty corners. Early in the fourth quarter, still 20 minutes away from when Graziosi took two steps right and rifled the game-winning goal past Hawks goalkeeper Victoria Kammerinke, Graham crouched down at midfield and greeted another St. Joseph’s rush. Fans had started to congregate near the bottom of J.S. Coyne Stadium’s bleachers, awaiting the pivotal rush. Others paced on the top row by the “Game Day” flags whipping in the wind. Graham shuffled to her left and followed until she could poke the ball away. Hoffmann snagged possession and sent an outlet pass to a streaking Luby. Despite an outstretched stick, Luby watched the pass jump past her stick. She shook her head.But Graham wasn’t disheveled at the missed opportunity. The freshman had done her job, similar to her other midfield and back partners the rest of the night. Graham jogged to her right, back toward her normal spot, and grasped her stick with both hands. At one point, another rush would come. Another chance to start a counter-attack. She just had to be ready. Comments Published on September 13, 2019 at 10:48 pm Contact Andrew: email@example.com | @CraneAndrew Facebook Twitter Google+