WSOC : With four games to go, hunt for Big East berth intensifies
For the eight seniors on the Syracuse women’s soccer team, their final two home games at SU Soccer Stadium this weekend hold plenty of importance.
The next four games on the Orange schedule will determine its fate for Big East postseason play. That mean’s SU needs to break out of its recent funk this weekend, when it hosts Seton Hall (5-7-2, 1-5-1 Big East) at 6 p.m. Friday and Rutgers (10-3-1, 5-1-1 Big East) at 1 p.m. Sunday. The Orange will finish up with a pair of away games next weekend against Connecticut and Providence.
‘It’s basically a four-game season now,’ senior forward Amanda Arcuri said. ‘How we do in these next four games will determine everything. It’s in our hands, and that’s a good feeling. The past couple years, we’ve had to rely on other teams to lose to make it to the tournament, so it’s nice to have our fate in our own hands.’
Five spots from the American and National divisions advance to the Big East Tournament. The Orange (4-8-2, 1-5-1 Big East) currently sits in seventh place out of eight teams in the American division. But six of those teams do not have a winning record in the Big East.
Syracuse has only played two other Big East teams with losing conference records tying St. Johns and beating Pittsburgh, 1-0. The five Orange conference losses have come at the hands of teams with a record of .500 or better. Rutgers is the only team of the final four with a winning record in Big East play.
‘We need these last four games to make it to the Big East Tournament,’ senior midfielder Crystal Rinaldi said. ‘Right now everything is so much in the air with the Big East that anything could happen at this point.’
While the main focus of the weekend will be a successful homestand, the team hopes the festivities for senior weekend will not distract the team from its goal.
Six of the eight seniors on the Orange roster have been with the team since their freshman year in 2005 – the last time Syracuse reached the Big East Tournament. Wheddon hopes the team can maintain its focus to correct the mistakes that have plagued them the last five games.
‘We’re still fighting for wins,’ Syracuse head coach Phil Wheddon said. ‘That’s our goal. I know it’ll be an emotional weekend for them and all our players. I’m hoping we can stay composed with all that emotion and still go out with intensity and passion to win for each other. I think that will give us a little more desire to win the senior’s last home game and is a more added incentive.’
The Orange has lost five straight games, yet a postseason spot remains within reach. Senior defender Lauren Cappelli said the teams past mistakes with lack of communication and staying compact on the field have been resolved. Now the team must focus on the most recent issue, a lack of scoring. Syracuse has been outscored 16-1 in those five losses and will need to find a strong offensive burst to push toward the postseason.
‘It’s definitely a push these last few games,’ Rinaldi said. ‘We’ve prepared all season and its coming to an end with four years of hard work, and you want something to show for it.’
Syracuse will have to channel its emotions this weekend in an effort to make its first Big East Tournament appearance in four years.
‘We’re taking one game at a time so we can focus,’ Cappelli said. ‘But I think this weekend will help us and make everyone more excited, and the underclassmen will work for the seniors with these last two games left on our field.’
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