Key players’ injuries have further derailed Syracuse’s season

first_imgSydney Brackett sat a foot out of bounds beyond Syracuse’s goal line with her right leg extended, her shirt collar in her mouth and tears in her eyes. The junior had just rolled her right ankle while tracking down Notre Dame’s Brianna Martinez on Oct. 13, and dropped to the ground. Assistant athletic trainer Meagan Bevins tended to her and Brackett limped slowly behind the goal and to the sidelines.Across the field in front of SU’s bench, SU head coach Phil Wheddon stared blankly into the distance with his mouth open and hand on his face. Again, one of the Orange’s key players was down. First, leading scorer Kate Hostage missed three games after suffering an injury against Duke on Sept. 16. Less than three weeks later, goalkeeper Lysianne Proulx was ruled out for the season with a hip injury. Now, Brackett, a leader of the offense, was gone.“Player after player, it seems like it’s a weekly occurrence,” Wheddon said about SU’s injuries. “It’s been a little bit demoralizing for everyone. It’s been an arduous journey.”Injuries to key players have only made Syracuse’s (3-14, 0-9 Atlantic Coast) historically bad season harder. Between limited depth, players playing out of position and late-game fatigue, injuries have had a “massive impact” on SU’s performances, Wheddon said. The growing list of hurt players has contributed to the Orange’s current 12-game losing streak.When Syracuse suffered 4-0 losses to Harvard and Penn State in late August and early September, Wheddon had numbers on the bench, using seven or more substitutions in both games. In recent blowout losses to North Carolina, Notre Dame and Virginia, Wheddon has only used five substitutes due to a lack of numbers to call on.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“We haven’t had the depth on the roster that we’d like to have,” Georgia Allen said. “In a perfect world, we’d have everybody fit. We can’t press for 90 minutes.”The Orange’s injuries have their biggest impact in the final 15 minutes of a game, Wheddon said. Players are fatigued and can’t always be rotated out, which results in lots of conceding. In conference play, 10 of Syracuse’s 34 goals allowed have come in the final quarter-hour of play. In consecutive games against UNC and Notre Dame on Oct. 7 and 13, SU surrendered a combined six goals in the final 15 minutes.Laura Angle | Digital Design EditorThe lack of depth also forced the Orange to play out of position. Abby Jonathan, SU’s starting center back for the first nine games of the season, was shifted to striker against Duke after Hostage went down. Allen started the season as a center midfielder, but has mostly played striker in conference play. Defender Taylor Bennett has left the backline and roamed upfield more frequently, registering a shot in six of the Orange’s last seven games.For the healthy players, seeing a teammate grimace in pain and not return to the game takes an emotional toll.“We have to try and protect the players,” Wheddon said. “Student-athlete welfare is the main thing, not pushing them to the point that they break.”While Syracuse’s injury troubles have primarily affected its performance in games, they have, at times, altered how SU practices, too. At the end of each session, the Orange has an intrasquad scrimmage. When three or more injured players are on the sidelines in a sweatshirt and sweatpants, it makes simulating a live, 11 versus 11 game impossible for Syracuse’s 23-player roster.SU’s injuries have been unavoidable, Wheddon said, as none of them have occurred in practice, while most have been caused by contact in games. The players and coaches have exercised caution in training and are doing their best to distribute minutes so nobody is worked too hard. Yet players continue to drop.“It’s really hard to watch your best players go down,” Hostage said. “It’s not fun for anyone. But it’s part of the game, it’s something we’ve had to deal with.” Comments Published on October 24, 2018 at 10:32 pm Contact David: ddschnei@syr.edu Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more