FH : Goalie Hess makes 4 vital saves to help Syracuse preserve narrow win
Whenever No. 2 Syracuse isn’t on the field, Ange Bradley finds SU goalkeeper Heather Hess’ mind tends to wander.
‘She does star-gaze quite a bit from what I’ve seen off the field,’ the Syracuse head coach said.
But Hess’ vigilant play between the posts Sunday was anything but lackadaisical. Hess made four crucial saves in key situations throughout the game, giving the Orange the boost it needed in a 3-1 victory over No. 20 American Sunday at J.S. Coyne stadium.
The four saves by Hess moved her into fifth place on SU’s career saves list with 321.
‘Heather’s performance was huge,’ Bradley said. ‘She’s just playing in the moment. She stepped up today and did a fabulous job.’
The first of Hess’ saves came early in the game, uncharacteristic for an Orange team that has been known to dominate possession in the beginning stages of a match. But two minutes in, American drew a corner, putting Syracuse on the defensive.
American captain Irene Schickhardt blasted a shot toward the upper right-hand corner of the net, but an outstretched Hess managed to deflect the ball, keeping the score tied at zero.
‘At the moment you just react,’ Hess said about the save. ‘It can be tough but I honestly just go – I don’t even think, it just comes.’
The save was the first of many battles Hess would have against the senior forward Schickhardt. The German native rocketed seven total shots against Hess, four of which went on goal. She was one of only two Eagles players to record a shot.
‘(Schickhardt) was tough,’ senior back Heather Doran said. ‘We had to always make sure we had someone guarding her if she came in our area, one of us in the backfield needed to make sure we were communicating to the front line or communicating with each other to make sure she was guarded, but I thought we handled her quite well.’
Hess’ best save of the night came later.
With Syracuse leading 1-0 and its signature attack failing to produce any insurance goals, the team began to maneuver the ball throughout its backfield to look for any possible openings.
After the ball was played back into the circle, freshman back Ann Sophie Van Der Post slid an errant pass out in front of her goal that was intercepted by a charging Megan Henry for the Eagles.
Instantly, Hess stepped up and kicked the ball away, preserving the score.
‘I just saw (Van Der Post) had the ball and the girl was closing in on her,’ Hess said. ‘And I was like ‘I need to be ready if she gets to her,’ then she deflected it off enough where I could get to it and I just got the ball to (Heather) Doran to get something going.’
The save, which came with two minutes to go in the half, led to a change of possession and ultimately another scoring opportunity for Syracuse. Although the Orange did not capitalize, the save and quick transition gave the team some much-needed momentum heading into the second half.
‘She did her job well,’ Bradley said. ‘She has very good fundamental and technical skills, she’s poised under pressure and that’s a tough thing to do as a goalkeeper.’
Hess dazzled the crowd one more time after the Orange emerged from the half, denying a powerful Schickhardt blast from just inside the circle.
The challenge American posed was a far cry from that of Georgetown just two days prior. (SU thrashed the Hoyas, 16-0.) When asked to discuss what the difference was between the two matchups, Hess laughed.
‘This one was definitely exciting,’ she said. ‘It helped me stay more in the game. Georgetown was fun, but I got a little bored.’
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