How Ange Bradley finally got the national title she’s been chasing for 25 years

first_imgANN ARBOR, Mich. — Ange Bradley paced back and forth, rolling a ball across the top of Ocker Field before the start of the national championship game. After the University of Michigan received a record 10.7 inches of snow the day before, Bradley wanted to see how the ball played across the wet and cold blue surface — very much entrenched in the present.Her 2015 Orange sat little over an hour away from its biggest game and Bradley wanted nothing left to chance, not even the slightest bounce. The team preparing in the locker had been engineered the very same way, piece by piece and with little to no room for uncertainties.But after 70 minutes of play and amid the national championship celebration, Bradley was finally able to remove herself from the moment, look back on her achievements and realize exactly what she had accomplished.Lifted far above the rest of the festivities occurring at midfield by her backs Lies Lagerweij and Roos Weers, Ange Bradley looked at her team — the first women’s national championship team in Syracuse history — and simply smiled.“I’m numb. I’ve been chasing this dream for 25 years,” Bradley said. “… I have no feeling because it’s so unreal. I’m just so proud of these women.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textNow finished with her ninth season as Syracuse field hockey’s head coach, Bradley has led the Orange to eight straight NCAA tournaments, four final fours and now two national championship games. But until Syracuse (21-1, 6-0 Atlantic Coast) defeated North Carolina (21-3, 4-2), 4-2, Sunday, the biggest achievement had always eluded her.When things looked bleakest in the title game after two North Carolina goals tied the game, Bradley helped turn the tide with a crucial timeout.“(A motivating time out) is all it is at this time,” Bradley said. “There’s tactics obviously, but great players make plays and it’s keeping the confidence high and keeping positive and keeping the belief and staying in the moment.”Following the timeout, Syracuse looked recharged and began to play more like the team that scored two goals in the game’s first 18 minutes. After earning a penalty corner, Syracuse netted its third goal of the game to break the tie and pull away from the Tar Heels.It all began after falling 1-0 to Connecticut in the 2014 national championship. Bradley set her sights on architecting a team that could once again reach field hockey’s biggest stage.SU returned 71 percent of its total scoring from last year, but retooled with the additions of Dutch graduate student Alma Fenne (47 points), Northeastern and second-team All American transfer Emma Lamison (22) and freshman starting backs Roos Weers (37) and Wilson (four).Bradley moved 2014 starting forwards Laura Hurff and Lies Lagerweij to midfielder and center back, respectively. Liz Sack left her reserve role and started the season’s final five games after Bradley saw promise in her forward play in the ACC tournament semifinal. As a result, Sack added nine points in the Orange’s four-game NCAA tournament run.For Bradley, the focus didn’t ever rest on one player. Making Syracuse the best team possible was the only thing that mattered.On Sunday, Bradley’s team wasn’t just the best it could be. Syracuse cemented itself as the best team in the country.“(Bradley’s) game plan every time has been incredible,” Emma Russell said. “I don’t think there’s a coaching staff that deserves it more than ours.” Comments Published on November 22, 2015 at 9:13 pm Contact Liam: lpsull01@syr.edu Related Stories Syracuse field hockey becomes 1st women’s team in school history to win national championshipJess Jecko’s late saves help lead Syracuse to national championship winEmma Russell sets points record en route to national championship winGallery: Syracuse field hockey wins national titleStorify: Fans react to Syracuse field hockey’s first national titlecenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more