FH : Syracuse prepares for showdown with No. 2 North Carolina

first_img Published on August 31, 2011 at 12:00 pm Contact Stephen: sebail01@syr.edu | @Stephen_Bailey1 Steve Simpson hates North Carolina.As an assistant coach at Maryland, Simpson has seen firsthand North Carolina’s ability to strike quickly when its opponents are caught out of place. And even after leaving the Atlantic Coast Conference, he can’t escape the Tar Heels.‘I coached at Maryland for eight years, and I hate North Carolina,’ Simpson said. ‘They beat us for a long time in field hockey, and then we beat them for a long time in field hockey. … Any time your school loses to the same school again and again it’s not fun. So I respect them, but I hate that color.’Simpson, who is in his first year as an assistant at Syracuse, and the No. 5 Orange head to Chapel Hill, N.C., to take on No. 2 North Carolina Friday night. SU then plays No. 11 Wake Forest on Saturday. The weekend matchups will serve as an early-season barometer for the Orange.Syracuse has plenty to work on after its 4-0 victory against a far less-talented Monmouth squad Aug. 27. Despite winning easily, SU made mistakes in both pressing and maintaining its ‘diamond defense’ formation that left it very vulnerable. Though the overmatched Hawks were unable to take advantage of those mistakes, senior midfielder Nicole Nelson said the Tar Heels certainly will.‘We’re really trying to work on our counterattack defense and keeping it a lot tighter, stronger and more organized so that a team like North Carolina, if they do counterattack on us, we won’t have holes like we did against Monmouth,’ Nelson said. ‘Whereas they didn’t capitalize on them, North Carolina would.’AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAnd that’s where Simpson comes in.As opposed to head coach Ange Bradley, who he referred to as very ‘gung ho,’ Simpson is more tactically inclined. He is familiar with the Tar Heels and Demon Deacons and their on-field tendenciesSimpson has used his experience in the ACC to help prepare the Orange for this weekend’s games against the two quality teams.‘They’re both fairly right-side attack oriented,’ Simpson said. ‘Maybe Wake Forest goes all the way to the side a little bit more than North Carolina does. Maybe North Carolina goes to the end line a little bit more than Wake Forest does. Wake Forest goes diagonally into the circle pretty quickly.’While Syracuse can break down the game plan of its opponents to the highest level, Bradley said its ‘most threatening’ opponent this weekend is itself. The head coach wants her team to improve on its communication and not get caught out of position defensively.Junior back Amy Kee understands the adjustments that need to be made. She is not concerned with UNC’s No. 2 ranking. Rather, Kee is looking forward to the chance for SU to measure up against two national powerhouses and to make a statement early in the season.‘It’s a great opportunity,’ Kee said. ‘These are the games that you kind of live for. You really want to play the big teams. It’s a great chance for us to go out there and put our name on the map and such.’For Simpson, defeating North Carolina would be a small personal victory, but seeing the Orange come out of this weekend 2-0 is what really matters. This is the first major test on SU’s schedule, and, as Bradley said, the first step on the path to the team’s bigger goals of winning a Big East championship and advancing to the final four.‘If we want to be Big East champions we’re going to have to be able to (win these games), and then NCAA semifinals and final four,’ Bradley said. ‘That’s how I look at the next three weekends.’sebail01@syr.edu Commentscenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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