Field Hockey

No. 5 Syracuse struggling to convert on penalty corners amid hot start

Jordan Phelps | Staff Photographer

Lies Lagerweij (21) and the Orange have struggled mightily this season on penalty corners, though SU is 5-0 nonetheless.

Ahead 1-0 with an opportunity to extend the lead against Bucknell, freshman Chiara Gutsche lined up to the right of the cage to insert the ball. Opposite her, Roos Weers lurked outside of the arc, waiting for the pass. But Gutsche mishit the insertion, so instead of Weers shooting, Gutsche ran after the ball into the arc. As she gave chase, the Orange followed the wrong side of team history.  

“One time, the insert is off,” Weers said, describing the team’s penalty-corner difficulties. “The other time, the stop is off. Other times, the finish isn’t on point.” 

Syracuse (5-0) remains perfect this season, with five shutouts in five games. But SU has just one penalty corner goal this season in 34 attempts. Lies Lagerweij scored the first goal of the season five minutes into the opener, but over the next 345 minutes, SU has not converted any of its 33 corners.  

In 11 years with SU head coach Ange Bradley at the helm, SU has never begun a season converting on such a low percentage of attempts.   

“It’s a timing thing,” Bradley said. “It’s timing. (We’re) only two, three weeks into the season. So it’s definitely a timing thing. And connection.” 

Syracuse had previously scored at least two penalty corner goals through its first five games every year, dating back to 2006. And the team’s current success rate on corners, 2.9 percent, is the lowest it has ever been at any point in the season during that tenure.  

“Nothing is going as good as we want it to go,” Weers said. “You can only execute a penalty corner if every piece is perfect.” 

Jennifer Bleakney is the team’s new inserter on corners, replacing a graduated Emma Lamison. She watched from the sidelines when Gutsche misfired her pass, as she was just subbed out.  

Of the other five penalty corners Syracuse tried against Bucknell, two were saved by goalkeeper Emily Finn, and two others were blocked by the defense. Both of Finn’s saves were diving stops.  

Against Ohio, SU again took six shots from penalty corners. This time, Lagerweij took the shots instead of Weers. But again, the Orange faced the same results. Bobcats goalkeeper Alex Pennington saved four shots, one sailed wide and one was blocked by a defender.  

After the one that was blocked, Pennington advanced into the middle of a scrum to clear the ball. Elaine Carey crept the ball out of the blockage and found the empty net. But it wasn’t how SU hoped to score. 

“This isn’t good enough,” Weers said of the penalty corner unit. “It’s not what we want our corner shot to be. It’s not what our corner shot used to be.”

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