FH : On its own turf: Syracuse has home field advantage as host of Big East tournament

first_img Published on November 2, 2011 at 12:00 pm Contact Stephen: sebail01@syr.edu | @Stephen_Bailey1 Comments Facebook Twitter Google+center_img As the Connecticut players celebrated on the field after a 3-2 double-overtime victory over Syracuse on Oct. 23, the Orange players trudged toward the sidelines, disgruntled with their failure.The frustration from that losing performance resonated with senior back Nicole Nelson. It was a game the Orange could have won.‘I was pretty pissed off actually,’ senior back Nicole Nelson said on Oct. 26. ‘I just really thought we were going to win the game, and it was really disappointing.’No. 5 Syracuse (16-3, 5-1 Big East) may have a chance to avenge that loss this weekend in the Big East tournament. The second-seeded Orange, which is hosting this year’s tournament at J.S. Coyne Stadium, opens play in the four-team bracket against third-seeded Villanova (8-10, 3-3) Friday at 3 p.m. No. 4 Connecticut, the top seed, plays fourth-seeded Louisville (10-8, 3-3) in the first semifinal matchup at 12:30 p.m.If SU and UConn take care of business in the semifinals against their lower-seeded opponents, the two will face off in the championship game for the fourth consecutive season. The Big East title game will be played Sunday at 1 p.m.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe Orange and the Huskies have developed an unparalleled rivalry in the Big East, partially through those three championship matches. SU earned victories in the 2008 and 2010 title games and beat out Connecticut for the regular-season title in all three years from 2008-10.This season, however, the Huskies went undefeated in conference play to earn the regular-season crown. They have also been slotted ahead of Syracuse in the NFHCA Coaches Poll all season long.In preparation for this year’s conference tournament, UConn is revamping its game plan. Huskies head coach Nancy Stevens wants to adjust her team’s approach to keep its familiar conference opponents on their toes.One area Connecticut is tweaking is penalty corners, which accounted for two of its three goals against the Orange in its regular-season win.‘We are adding a few new looks on both the attack and defense corner set pieces,’ Stevens said in an email to The Daily Orange. ‘… We feel it is important to give the opponents different looks in many areas of our game. We are working hard to upgrade our pressing and outletting schemes, as well.’If the Huskies execute, they shouldn’t have trouble against Louisville. Still, Stevens and SU head coach Ange Bradley said their teams are focused on defeating their semifinal opponents and aren’t looking ahead to a potential fourth-consecutive finals rematch.Especially after both Louisville and Villanova gave the top-seeded teams trouble in the regular season.The Cardinals led the Huskies for the first 20-plus minutes of what turned out to be a 4-2 loss, and they battled Syracuse to a 2-1 overtime loss earlier in the season.After being eliminated by UConn in each of the last three seasons, Louisville knows what is at stake Friday. They have yet to win a Big East tournament game in program history.Louisville head coach Justine Sowry said the team is embracing its underdog role.‘The mentality that we have to bring is the will to compete and the will to win,’ Sowry said in an email. ‘If you have the belief and you work hard as a team, then anything is possible.’Compared to facing the Cardinals — who were nationally ranked for part of the season — Syracuse arguably has an easier first-round draw in Villanova.But the Orange shouldn’t take the Wildcats lightly after narrowly escaping with a 3-2 victory over Villanova last Friday.Wildcats’ head coach Joanie Milhous said the close game boosted her team’s confidence. The players now know they’re capable of going toe to toe with a national contender.‘The loss was actually a win for us,’ Milhous said in an email. ‘Our team recognized that they can play strong against Syracuse and that we have the ability to beat them.’But the SU players said Villanova’s longer, rougher field turf severely hurt their performance. Friday’s game will be played on regular nylon-knit turf, a much faster and smoother surface.When push comes to shove, Louisville and Villanova pale in comparison to Syracuse and Connecticut. The Big East powerhouses are faster, stronger and more talented than their respective semifinal opponents. And they will likely be the two teams competing in the championship game, barring an unexpected upset.The Huskies lone blemish came against then-No. 8 Boston College, and the Orange has not lost to a lower-ranked team this season. No. 1 Old Dominion and No. 2 North Carolina each edged Syracuse by a goal in the opening weeks of the season, and UConn handed SU its third loss less than two weeks ago.And for Nicole Nelson, the anger evoked by that last defeat still lingers in her mind.‘It just makes me want to beat them even more than I already did,’ Nelson said. ‘UConn has always been a rival for me for the past four years, and every time we play them it’s always a big game.’sebail01@syr.edulast_img read more

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Angels Offseason Options: Mike Moustakas

first_img Jose Suarez’s rocky start sinks Angels in loss to Astros (This is the latest in a series of quick profiles on players who fit for the Angels to add over the winter. They are purely “informed speculation,” based on what we know about the Angels’ roster needs along with General Manager Billy Eppler’s preferences and history. We’ll have a new one every weekday, until the GM Meetings, which are the unofficial start of the hot stove season.)MIKE MOUSTAKAS, 3B, Milwaukee BrewersThe basics: A product of Chatsworth High, Moustakas came up as a power-hitting third baseman with the Kansas City Royals, with four seasons of 20 homers. He was widely connected to the Angels as a free agent last winter, but he ended up re-signing with Kansas City and getting traded to the Brewers midseason. He will play most of next season at age 30.2018 season: Moustakas hit .251 with a .315 on-base percentage and 28 homers.Contract status: Moustakas has a mutual option worth $15 million, which means he’s probably going to be a free agent. Last season he made $5.5 million. Why he makes sense: The Angels are not likely to have the room in their payroll or roster for a premium infielder who can only play one position, but Moustakas played a few games at first base last season. If he’s willing and able to play over there more regularly, or even primarily, he could be a good fit for the Angels. The Angels could use one more big bat, preferably who hits left-handed, and if he can play first base and another position, that allows him to fill in when Albert Pujols is not at first, but also be somewhere on the field when Pujols is. The transition to first base should be doable, as long as Moustakas is willing. If Moustakas could play first and third, he’d basically do what the Angels hoped Luis Valbuena would do. A Southern California native, he might have some incentive to do what it takes to fit with the Angels. Another left-handed power bat in the lineup would help balance the roster.Why he doesn’t: He is going to cost some money that the Angels would probably prefer to save for their pitching, since they believe they have enough young players with the offensive upside to give them what they need. Also, his career on-base percentage is only average. Defensively, he’d be a work in progress at first.Previous players: C J.T. Realmuto, RHP Nate Eovaldi, RHP Sonny Gray, LHP Patrick Corbin, LHP CC Sabathia, UT Daniel Descalso, RHP Julio Teheran, LHP Gio Gonzalez, UT Marwin Gonzalez, LHP J.A. Happ, LHP Will Smith.Related Articles Angels offense breaks out to split doubleheader with Astros Angels’ Shohei Ohtani spending downtime working in outfield center_img Angels’ Mike Trout working on his defense, thanks to Twitter Angels’ poor pitching spoils an Albert Pujols milestone Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more

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