Field Hockey

Elaine Carey ‘thriving’ in 1st year with Syracuse field hockey

Sam Ogozalek | Staff Writer

For every big play SU has during games, Carey is seemingly involved, whether it be continuing a string of plays or ending them with a goal.

Elaine Carey looked at the clock. The heat began to take a toll on her. Realizing she was on the field for the past 20 minutes — something unusual for her before— she put her head down and told herself to keep going in Syracuse’s game against North Carolina on Sept. 23.

“I remember … saying I’m not getting taken off here, just keep going,” Carey said. “It is mental once you accept it, it’s a lot easier.”

Carey has been one of the more active players on No. 2 Syracuse’s (12-1, 4-1 Atlantic Coast) offense that ranks sixth in goals per game, with 3.88. For every big play SU has during games, Carey is seemingly involved, whether it be continuing a string of plays or ending them. In her first season of Division I field hockey after playing at University College Dublin, Carey has thrived.

The transition to SU has been a big one, as games are much faster in the United States and the demands during practice are much higher, she said. But Carey has shown her offensive prowess with a combination of fitness, speed and aggressiveness.

“Normally up front back home I would play seven, eight minutes at a time,” Carey said. “And now over here I’d play for 10 to 15 minutes before I’m rotated off.”

While the game is slightly more physical in U.S., Carey hasn’t had a problem making an impact. Whether it be guarding an opponent on defense or battling for a ball on offense, Carey has battled back with aggressive play of her own.

“(She’s) probably one of the most aggressive players I’ve played with,” sophomore forward Jennifer Bleakney said.

Carey’s speed allows her to get past defenders easier than some of her other teammates. The throw-and-go tactic is common in her game. This occurs when a player taps the ball ahead of her opponent into open space. Without pausing, the player runs around and gets to the ball before the defender. For Carey, this technique is very effective and allows for scoring opportunities on offense.

“I came off the field one time … against Maryland,” Carey said. “and (assistant coach) Tara (Zollinger) just took me aside and said ‘Elaine, throw and go. You will beat them all day.’”

Carey has proven that she can create opportunities for herself, as she has scored seven goals on the season, tied for third on Syracuse. She has also been unselfish in her play, as her seven assists rank first for the Orange.

Against Louisville on Sept. 30, the Syracuse offense pushed up the field. Liz Sack received the pass and drove to the baseline. She wound up her stick and attempted to slap the ball. Missing at first, she wound up again and flipped the ball in the air, toward the goal. Carey, following from the back, was waiting for the tap-in and tied the game at one apiece.

“(I) wanted to make a difference and try to get the ball forward aggressively, because when we did it, we really picked them apart,” Carey said after the team’s 2-1 overtime victory over the then-No. 7 Cardinals.

That mentality has remained the same throughout the season and her speed has allowed her to exploit gaps in opposing defenses. Her speed and aggressiveness has helped her become a key for the SU offense.

Against then-No. 2 Duke, Carey hit a penalty corner. Up 4-1 late in the second half, a goal would seal the game. As the insertion came, all players moved out of the way as Carey hit the ball past the diving Duke goalie. She turned around, letting out a scream.

“She suits our culture very well,” head coach Ange Bradley said. “She seems to just be thriving.”

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