WSOC : Orange earns respect in most successful season under Wheddon

first_img Comments Phil Wheddon received messages following this season that he never got in his first three years as Syracuse’s head coach. But following the impressive season SU just finished, Wheddon’s phone and email were flooded.‘I’ve had a lot of notes and emails and texts from other coaches around the league congratulating us on the season, which means they know about us now,’ Wheddon said.‘We’re not someone they can take lightly.’The season was a massive turnaround for Syracuse, who has been near the bottom of the Big East standings for years. After losing 3-1 to Georgetown on Sunday in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament, Syracuse’s season ended. Despite the setback, the Orange (7-8-3, 6-5 Big East) accomplished milestones that had not been seen in Wheddon’s first three years, including making the Big East tournament.And the biggest thing Syracuse earned, one that doesn’t necessarily show up in the record books, is respect.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textSU goalkeeper Brittany Anghel started and played every minute this season. She said last year the feel around the conference was Syracuse wasn’t a very good team and one that held little respect from other squads. Now, conference foes notice the Orange.‘We kind of got some heads turning and stuff,’ Anghel said. ‘People know that we can pull out results — South Florida, Boston College — quality teams like that.‘I think we have gained a lot of respect from teams within the Big East.’Defender Cecilia Borgstrom is happy with that newfound respect and change in perception. The Orange was voted 13th out of 16 teams in the preseason Big East standings and finished with the sixth-best conference record.That slap in the face was unsettling to Borgstrom. She wonders what those same coaches who disrespected Syracuse are thinking now that the Orange won its most games since 2007.‘They’re probably biting their nails or something,’ Borgstrom said.SU gained that respect en route to an historic season. The Orange had its second-highest conference win total in program history and the most since 1998. SU also won four consecutive games for the first time since 2003.And Syracuse will be an experienced, dangerous team going into next year. The Orange will be returning most of its core players for the third straight season. The only outgoing players are starting defender Casey Ramirez and Carly Lenger, who only played one game this year.With the exception of Ramirez, Syracuse will retain its starting lineup. The chemistry the team developed this year should only continue to grow.‘I think that’s fantastic,’ Wheddon said. ‘Last year, we were a very young team. We made some mistakes that some teams make. This year, we’re obviously more experienced. Next year, we’ll have a very solid group of players, and we’ll also add to that group of players, but I think it puts us in a very good position in the next few years.’Anghel said having the bulk of the team return next year is a clear advantage for Syracuse because other schools aren’t holding over as many players. Georgetown — the team that knocked Syracuse out of the Big East tournament — is graduating six players, including its top goal scorer in Camille Trujillo.West Virginia, who finished tied atop the American Division with a 10-1 conference record and beat Syracuse this year, is also losing six players.Looking at his own team, Wheddon said moving forward the team must find a way to get rid of the errors that plagued SU at times this season.‘In a lot of these games, regardless of the score, there have been periods of the games we’ve played very well and outplayed the opposition,’ Wheddon said. ‘So I think we’ve got to eliminate the mistakes from our game. We had the mental errors and stuff like that.’Although the loss to Georgetown still stings, the Orange can reflect back on its accomplishments and hold its head high as it prepares to take another step over the offseason.‘(Wheddon) was proud of us,’ Borgstrom said. ‘We hate losing, all of us, but looking back we’re proud of what we’ve done.’ Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Published on November 1, 2011 at 12:00 pmlast_img

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