Published on April 4, 2018 at 8:21 pm Contact Billy: [email protected] | @Wheyen3 Early in the season, it seemed Emily Hawryschuk couldn’t miss — she ranked in the top 10 nationally for shooting percentage at one point. On Saturday against then-No. 20 Duke, a few of her misses encapsulated SU’s offense of late.She missed a first half free-position shot wide left and in the second half, she shot from the middle, right in front of net, and again missed left. Syracuse’s final chance of the game was a Hawryschuk free-position shot for a consolation goal that Duke’s goalie denied with her right foot.No. 18 Syracuse’s (7-5, 0-3 Atlantic Coast) potent early-season offense has gone dormant, contributing to losses in three of its last four. In the losses, Syracuse scored 10 goals each, its season-low. The drop off has stemmed from a lack of finishing, increased turnovers and a decline in quality shot selection. With two games in three days coming up — Thursday at No. 6 Loyola (8-2, 4-0 Patriot) and Saturday at No. 14 Virginia Tech (10-4, 3-1 ACC) — the Orange needs to kickstart a struggling offense against two more quality opponents.“We seem to be stuck at the magic number 10 in three of our losses,” SU head coach Gary Gait said. “Our shooting percentage falls to about 30 percent in those games … Those numbers dictate that we’re not going to have success.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAnna Henderson | Digital Design EditorOffensive deficiencies were masked against Cornell on March 20, when the Orange won, 14-7. For 21 minutes spanning the first and second halves, SU didn’t score, struggling to keep control of the ball in the midfield. SU coughed it up nine times in the second half and 16 total. Even when Syracuse established offensive possession, it struggled to create quality chances.A trip to unranked Notre Dame four days later brought the issues to the forefront, as the Orange scored 10 goals in an overtime loss and shot 35.7 percent. Two days later, SU scored 10 goals again, this time at then-No. 11 Northwestern in a four-goal loss.“We just didn’t finish on our opportunities,” Gait said on March 26. “We had 17 shots in the first half … We didn’t put the ball in the back of the net.”Syracuse stopped the bleeding with a 17-16 win over Princeton. On the one day off between playing Princeton and Duke, Gait cautioned that the issues may not have been fully solved. And against the Blue Devils, that showed in a 10-goal, 31.25 shooting percentage output. Duke faceguarded SU’s Nicole Levy and the Orange didn’t have an answer.Syracuse attacks Levy and Molly Carter, along with Gait, cited strong opposition as part of the problem. But all three harped on shot selection.“You kind of know right away and you’re like ‘Oh, I shouldn’t have taken that,’” Carter said.Before the Duke game, SU midfielder Sam Swart acknowledged that entering a game shooting at a high percentage can tempt players to try more difficult shots.But Carter said there’s another reason that shot selection suffers: panic. And when Syracuse trails early — it trailed at halftime in its losses to UND, NU and Duke — Carter said SU went into panic-mode, causing rushed shots.“We try and just get those goals really fast,” Carter said. “… We do want to get those goals really quickly to try and get back up. But it’s all just placement.”With a few days to focus on practice after a hectic stretch of four games in eight days, the Orange has broken it down to basics. Offensive players worked in both one-on-one and five-on-five settings, Carter and Levy said, to practice dodging, finding an edge and finishing.“It’s a lot more high intensity,” Carter said of the recent practices. “It’s not just going through the motions.”With five games remaining on Syracuse’s schedule and the Orange still without a win in the ACC, finding an edge and finishing will be important for more than just SU’s offense. It could be the difference between an NCAA tournament berth and watching from home. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+
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