first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ At the beginning of the season, Syracuse head coach Phil Wheddon referred to this year’s team as the deepest one he’d ever coached.He still feels the same way, even though SU has only won two Atlantic Coast Conference games this season with only one left to play.Syracuse (5-9-4, 2-6-1 Atlantic Coast) has one last chance to translate its depth into a victory and it comes against No. 5 North Carolina (11-2-2, 8-0-1) this Sunday at 1 p.m. at SU Soccer Stadium. The team has started 18 players this year, but even with a win Sunday, the Orange can’t win as many games as last season’s team, which started 15 players.Wheddon said the Orange’s only senior on the roster, Alexis Koval, may return to the team next year as a fifth-year senior. With the potential of not losing anyone and adding a freshman class that the players raved about, SU feels optimistic looking beyond Sunday’s game.“We have 19 players who are freshmen or sophomores,” Wheddon said. “With those kinds of numbers, next year and the year after and the year after are going to be great for us.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAs opposed to seeing a drop-off in play by substituting often, Wheddon hasn’t seen that happening for Syracuse this season. He finds that the team often has something to gain by going to its reserves.Syracuse has struggled over the last month as its last win and goal came against Boston College on Oct. 4. SU has totaled four losses and a tie since, but Wheddon has been relatively happy with his team’s performance, pointing to the fact that the ACC is an “unforgiving” conference as a reason why the depth hasn’t translated onto the scoreboard.“Apart from the Florida State and Virginia Tech game, we’ve been in every game,” Wheddon said when asked about how less depth would have affected SU’s record. “I don’t know if we would have dropped more games, but we probably would have had to take up a different mentality. We would have had to play a lot more defensive and hold back a little bit more.”Although the team has lost six conference games, the Orange has been able to play competitively with some of the best teams in the country, losing only one of four games against ranked opponents by more than two goals. With the speed of play in the ACC being so quick, it’s been useful for the team to turn to the bench in certain situations, Wheddon said.One example of the team receiving contributions from different players was freshman Alana O’Neill’s two-goal explosion off the bench in a 3-0 win over BC. It was the freshman’s first time at forward since high school, but the spark from an unlikely source speaks to the roster’s depth.“Alana was a great example of what this team’s about,” said junior forward Maya Pitts. “We have so many talented, technical and passionate players that it’s hard to know who’s going to make the big plays.”Pitts added that SU has a lot of work to do, but throughout the season the Orange has greatly improved because of how many players have seen the field.Fellow freshman Eva Gordon said she thinks the team’s depth has been beneficial, especially considering the number of young players on the roster. Practices filled with intense competition have only helped Syracuse get better as players know their performance in practice has a direct correlation to their playing time.“It betters us younger players a whole lot,” Gordon said. “For the most part, we’ve all gotten the chance to see the field, improve and develop.”The team looks to continue its development and finish the season on the right foot Sunday afternoon.“The expectation moving forward (to next season) is the NCAA tournament,” Wheddon said. “We need to be one of those teams. We have the personnel and now we have the experience.” Comments Published on October 30, 2014 at 12:12 am Contact Liam: lpsull01@syr.edulast_img

Syracuse looks to keep developing youth, depth in season finale against North Carolina

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