How success at the free position is elevating SU’s high-powered offense

first_img Published on February 26, 2020 at 12:31 am Contact Roshan: rferna04@syr.edu | @Roshan_f16 When Syracuse is awarded a free position, no one knows what the Orange will do next. Against Binghamton, Emily Hawryschuk elected to charge forward and shoot. Against Colgate, Megan Carney motioned her stick forward as if she was going to shoot, and then re-cradled the ball and juked out her defender.Later that game, freshman Bianca Chevarie fired a free position-shot that appeared to be high and wide left, but Carney popped out from behind the net, collected the pass and put the ball into the back of the net thanks to a spin move.For the Orange, unpredictability is key.“You don’t have to take that one angled shot (every time),” junior Sam Swart said. “Being crazy and doing different things, instead of just going to goal every time.”After Syracuse (5-1) went 0-for-6 on free position opportunities in its first game of the season, head coach Gary Gait dedicated extra practice time to the play. Since that game, SU has scored on almost half of its free positions — including five on 10 attempts against then-No. 6 Northwestern on Feb. 22.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“You have to have a plan,” Gait said. “Some players get up there and they don’t know what they’re going to do, they’re just like ‘OK, I’ll shoot it in the net.’”Part of that plan, more often than not, is to pass on the free position even though that counts as a statistical missed shot. Swart said no one did that in high school and few teams do it in college; it only became common last year when now-graduated Nicole Levy was with the Orange.After connecting with Carney on the free position, Chevarie said she was “always looking for that one more pass, if it’s there.” Swart, Carney and Gait agreed.“I think it’s a no-brainer,” Levy said last year. “It’s either me from the eight or her on the doorstep. You give her it every time.”Earlier this season, SU wouldn’t always have time to practice free positions, Carney said. But now, Carney said Syracuse has introduced a “more efficient,” 8-meter drill. While the attacks work on their go-to free position plays, the defense gets its reps playing against the attacks. The drill also incorporates passing and expects all the players to be alert, unlike the old drill, which was a lot of waiting in lines.Roshan Fernandez | Asst. Digital EditorIt’s all about the first step, Carney said, and they work on that during and after practice with assistant coach Sydney Pirreca. Vocal calls and hand gestures indicate that a pass is coming, but all that’s necessary once they’re on the same page is eye contact, Carney said. Every player expects to make free position shots because “you have a free lane to goal,” Carney said, but that’s not always the case. Against Stony Brook, Carney hit the pipe, grabbed the follow up and hit the pipe again.“It’s like shooting a free throw for basketball,” Carney said, “You just do rep after rep until you got it.”Regardless, the pressure is on, but that’s what the team works on in practice — developing the mental toughness to be able to handle it. Gait expects his players to have as many as four go-to moves which they can use from certain hashes.“It’s a great opportunity to score, and (we) want to be prepared to give ourselves the best chance,” Gait said.When Swart gets a free position, she walks up to the line and takes a couple deep breaths. Then, just like her teammates, she steadies herself, leaning her body forward and extending her stick as she cradles the ball.She stares down the goalie, flings her stick forward and releases the shot. Or the pass. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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