Despite similar results, Wheddon sees improvement from last year

first_img Published on October 26, 2010 at 12:00 pm For the Syracuse women’s soccer team, on the surface, everything looks the same. In the preseason, the squad was picked to finish seventh in the Big East. It finished tied for sixth. Last year, the team won five games. This year, six. In 2009, SU rode a five-game unbeaten streak on its way into conference play. And in 2010, SU put together back-to-back wins, heading into conference play with some momentum. And all that ‘same’ did not take the Orange to its season-long goal: making the Big East tournament.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text ‘While our record in 2010 is better than it was last year, it doesn’t ease the pain of not making the (Big East) tournament,’ SU head coach Phil Wheddon said. ‘I am disappointed for the players because I believe they deserve to be there. I’m proud of the players and their work rate. They didn’t give up at all. … We’re a very young team that is only going to get better and better.’ To the naked eye, much of the play remained the same for the Orange. But for Wheddon and his players, there were several indications of improvement before the season ended Sunday afternoon following a 2-1 loss at South Florida. Rosina Callisto emerged as a legitimate scoring option behind the usual two at the top. The usual two at the top, Megan Bellingham and Tina Romagnuolo, were just that, with Bellingham’s composed presence in the first half of the season and Romagnuolo’s late-game heroics in the second. Alyscha Mottershead emerged as co-captain. One of only four to play in all 20 games this season, the former Iowa transfer found a home in the Orange midfield. ‘I knew a couple of the players here already, so I didn’t necessarily look at the record of the past,’ Mottershead said. ‘I kind of just looked at where it was going, and this program is definitely moving in the right direction, and I wanted to be a part of it.’ Reserves emerged as threats. Six players scored at least two goals this season, and two netted the first of their career. Crunch time emerged as payday. The Orange scored four goals in the first half to 14 in the second, seven of which won or tied games in the last 10 minutes. Underclassmen emerged as game-changers. Brittany Anghel’s 91 saves were the sixth-highest single-season total in school history. Brielle Heitman scored two goals, and the game-winner, in the team’s first win of the season. And the backfield presence of Kayla Afonso and Cecilia Borgstrom alone played a key role in SU’s six shutouts. So what does all that mean for next year’s outlook? ‘It means that we are going to be better the next couple of years,’ SU defender Taylor Chamberlain said. SU only won one more game than it did last year. But the transformation of the Syracuse women’s soccer program is not complete. Next year, the Orange will welcome back 15 upperclassmen compared to this year’s five. Wheddon will be entering his fourth season with the program, and perhaps Syracuse will build upon being the team that’s difficult to put away. Pittsburgh head coach Sue-Moy Chin had high praise for the Orange following a 1-1 overtime draw on Oct. 10, a game in which SU came from behind late to tie. Syracuse did not qualify for the Big East tournament this season, but to even others outside the program, things have changed. And with a near-full roster coming back next year, Chamberlain thinks there can be even more change. ‘With a lot of younger girls, we are going to have experience and be better for the next couple of years,’ Chamberlain said. ‘It will be nice to have some veterans that can lead the team, but at the same time, younger girls who bring a lot of hope for the future.’ [email protected] — Staff Writer Andrew Tredinnick contributed reporting to this story Commentscenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more