Sophomore Heitman provides needed scoring spark in comeback win
Syracuse women’s soccer head coach Phil Wheddon knew that the glaring issue coming into Sunday’s game against Colgate was scoring goals. He said as much after the game.
‘It’s no secret that we’ve been struggling to score,’ Wheddon said.
When faced with a one-goal deficit going into halftime, sophomore forward Brielle Heitman provided the solution for her coach’s predicted problem.
Heitman scored two goals in the second half, en route to a 2-1 victory for the Orange (1-1-2) against Colgate (0-3) Sunday in front of a crowd of 353 at the SU Soccer Stadium.
With Heitman’s performance, Wheddon finally caught a glimpse of what he had been waiting for since the first game of the season. The head coach saw his team break through and score on its numerous chances in the victory.
‘Now we feel that we know we can score goals off of set pieces and in the run of play,’ Wheddon said. ‘I think that hopefully, the flood gates will open and we’ll be able to score a few more.’
The Orange, who outplayed the Raiders for nearly all 90 minutes of the game, were dealt a blow when Colgate’s Anna Baldwin chipped a shot over SU goalkeeper Brittany Anghel for the first goal of the game in the 32nd minute.
Syracuse went into halftime with another deficit and had to accomplish what it had struggled to do in each of its previous three contests: score goals. But to sophomore midfielder Jasmine Watkins, the urgency was there.
‘We knew we couldn’t walk away with a loss or a tie,’ Watkins said.
Wheddon made slight adjustments heading onto the field in the second half with a different lineup. Even with primary scoring threats Tina Romagnuolo and Megan Bellingham on the bench for the start of the second half, SU answered Wheddon’s call.
Heitman, who did not start in the game, provided an immediate spark. Her first goal in an Orange uniform came after she delivered a tricky shot from 15 yards out that barely crossed the goal line. Heitman would score again less than 10 minutes later off a teammate’s header on a corner kick.
Syracuse had outshot its opponents in previous games this year, but failed to finish. Wheddon knew the second goal might have been a bit of luck, but still, it was a finish.
‘I think with (sophomore forward) Jenna Rickan standing at the near post, she created a lot of confusion,’ Wheddon said. ‘She’s a strong woman, and the idea was to bang it in off her head, but she drew a lot of attention to the near post and luckily Brielle was there to finish it.’
The Orange needed just over 88 minutes to tie Friday’s game against Lehigh, but it was poised to even the score on Sunday much sooner.
SU would need fewer than three minutes after halftime to tie the game and only eight more minutes to take the lead. Junior defender Casey Ramirez attributed the scoring output in the second half to a shift in the team’s mentality.
‘Coach Wheddon put some other people back in the game and just told us to push forward,’ Ramirez said. ‘He said to stay with it because we were dominating and just needed to get some goals in the back of the net.’
Wheddon knew it would take some time before the goals started pouring in. The Orange had numerous chances in the first half that were right on goal but were directly at Colgate’s goaltender Ashley Walsh.
SU outshot the Raiders by a margin of 19-8 in the game. The Orange dominated offensively for most of the afternoon and prevented Colgate from getting quality chances.
With the stellar performance of Heitman, Syracuse was able to prove that, finally, it could rebound from a deficit, producing two goals from a consistent second half attack.
No matter what Wheddon predicted prior to the game.
Said Wheddon: ‘One thing that I’ve said all along was that this team has tremendous depth in a lot of different positions.’
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