Football

Syracuse field hockey advances to NCAA tournament quarterfinals with 5-1 win over Harvard

Sam Ogozalek | Staff Writer

Syracuse advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament on Saturday with a dominant win over Harvard.

Roos Weers stood outside the arc. She fired a pass between multiple players, finding Emma Tufts standing alone by the corner of the goal. Tufts corralled the pass and tapped the ball in to give Syracuse an early one-goal lead.

Finding open holes and exploiting them with long passes from the defensive backs proved to be a difference maker in No. 3 seed Syracuse’s (15-3, 4-2 Atlantic Coast) 5-1 victory over unseeded Harvard (12-6, 7-0 Ivy) on Saturday in the first round of the NCAA tournament at J.S. Coyne Stadium. The Orange will face No. 6 seed Connecticut at 2 p.m. on Sunday at Coyne — with a trip to the final four on the line.

Coming off a first-round loss to Wake Forest in the ACC tournament, the defending national champions jumped out to an early lead. After giving up a goal to Harvard’s Maddie Earle, SU went on a 4-0 run, shutting down the Crimson for the last 54 minutes of the game.

“We were able to get the ball out pretty high, pretty early,” SU head coach Ange Bradley said. “We had a 3-on-3 in the backfield most of the time.”

Claire Webb fired a pass downfield to a streaking Liz Sack. Sticking out her stick, Sack tapped the ball and drove down the sideline. She cut in, pushed the ball past a Harvard defender, dribbled, then shot into the back of the net.

While Sack’s speed and stick skills helped give SU its third goal, Webb’s long pass started the play.

“It’s a connection thing,” Sack said. “Sometimes we struggle with that a bit … but being connected with one another on the field is really important.”

As the first half began to wind down, Weers sent a long pass toward the center of the net. The ball deflected in the air and Sack, from her knees, threw her stick up and hit the ball down. As players watched and others ran at the goal, the ball bounced and could not be stopped. SU took a 4-1 lead.

“I was already on my knees for some reason and remember seeing the ball come down and being like ‘If I don’t hit on this, we’re missing a big opportunity,’” Sack said.

From these long passes, the Syracuse attack pressed the Harvard defense often. SU shot 14 times and just two missed the cage. The entire game, Harvard managed just two shots, one of which ended as a goal. The Crimson did not take a single shot in the second half.

Weers dribbled the ball and fired a pass across the field to Tufts, who streaked toward the goal. Getting by the defender, Tufts let off a shot toward goalie Libby Manela. The ball hit off her and bounced away. While there was no goal on the play, the passes orchestrated from Weers and the defense created a multitude of opportunities for Syracuse.

“Looking into the holes and seeing space,” Weers said on the long passes being effective. “We played it more often … and today, we filled those positions.”

And as a result of having success on long passes, Syracuse’s season extended at least one more day.

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