Syracuse uses ACC title game loss as motivation heading into national championship against UNC

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on November 21, 2015 at 10:35 pm Contact Sam: sjfortie@syr.edu | @Sam4TR ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Syracuse goalkeeper Jess Jecko remembers the celebration most.Not the Orange’s reaction when the team won its NCAA tournament semifinal against Connecticut. Not the elation of capping a perfect regular season against Duke. Jecko remembers walking off the field and seeing the North Carolina players dressed in powder blue hoisting the Atlantic Coast Conference championship trophy.Capturing the ACC title was one of SU’s goals early in the season. But then Jecko’s mind turned to that next goal. A bigger one.“That moment (we saw them celebrating),” Jecko said. “As a team we said, ‘That’s where we want to be in three weeks.’ And now we have an opportunity to do that.”The Orange is familiar with UNC, having a come-from-behind 4-2 victory over the Tar Heels on Sept. 12. SU also lost to UNC, 2-1, in overtime in the ACC championship on Nov. 8.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textNo. 1 seed Syracuse (20-1, 6-0 Atlantic Coast) will lean on that familiarity, but also draw upon its only loss as it faces off with No. 2 seed North Carolina (21-2, 4-2) Sunday at 1 p.m. in the NCAA championship game at Ocker Field in Ann Arbor, Michigan.“I definitely think there’s a little bit of nervousness,” senior midfielder Alyssa Manley said. “But it’s mostly excitement. It’s the calm before the storm. That’s how we are right now.”The key to Syracuse leaving Ann Arbor as SU’s first women’s program to win a national championship is playing fast and aggressive for a full 70 minutes, Manley and Jecko said. It’s something Syracuse hasn’t yet done against the Tar Heels in 2015.Syracuse wants to create an attacking penalty-corner opportunity and score within the first five minutes Sunday, Jecko said, and that the Orange will attempt to control the tempo of the game. SU scored in the first two minutes against Connecticut Friday and forced the Huskies to play at a pace it couldn’t.SU has been aggressive against UNC before and owns a 31-24 advantage in shots and a 13-8 advantage in corners over both games. Syracuse, however, only separated from the Tar Heels in the first matchup with two second-half penalty-corner goals. The Orange added another tally by counterattacking after stopping a UNC penalty corner. Without the resurgence, the Orange wouldn’t have dealt the Tar Heels one of its two losses.Syracuse fell behind 1-0 in the first half to UNC in the ACC championship, tied the game at 1-1 in the second, but couldn’t score when it needed goals. The Tar Heels buried a rebound in overtime to end the Orange’s perfect season.“The ACC loss was really tough,” Roos Weers said. “We outshot them in every statistic except for the most important one — the score”Having faced UNC’s offense twice allows Jecko to be better prepared for the shots and concepts she’ll likely see Sunday.Throughout the opening rounds of the NCAA tournament and even before playing Connecticut in the semifinal, the ACC championship loss marinated in the minds of the Orange.SU wasn’t guaranteed to face UNC if it advanced because the Tar Heels were on the other side of the bracket, but with the opportunity to avenge its only loss, the motivation only runs that much thicker.“Personally, I would love to play (UNC) in the finals again,” Alma Fenne said laughing, before Syracuse had even played UConn. “… I want to play UNC in the finals and just beat them.” Commentslast_img

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