Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on October 11, 2017 at 8:35 pm Contact Charlie: [email protected] | @charliedisturco Syracuse often pushes up all but four of its players past midfield on offense. It’s something that, when executed, creates trouble for defenses. But, when it fails, only three defenders remain back to protect the goalkeeper from a close shot.The key to Syracuse’s offensive success starts with its wingbacks, the two outside midfielders, pushing up. John-Austin Ricks and Jan Breitenmoser have started every game for the Orange (5-6-2, 0-4-1 Atlantic Coast) at the position, posting a combined seven points and 14 shots. While their offensive success and versatility gives SU an extra push, it opens up defensive holes that can translate into runs from the opposition.“A lot of teams play with four in the back, we play with three,” SU head coach Ian McIntyre said. “… There’s times when you push forward and you’ve got good possession of the ball. Sometimes we’ve made mistakes.”Oftentimes, players said, those individual mistakes have proven costly, translating into Syracuse dropping six of its last seven. Though goals often come after the opposing offense settles, pushing all but its three backs upfield spreads the SU defense thin during counter runs.Against Oregon State, the Beavers pushed upfield and a pass near the left side of the penalty area found Hassani Dotson. One-on-one with Ricks, Dotson went right and ripped a shot top right corner. Though SU pulled out the win, the counter attack gave Oregon State the opening goal.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe next game, the Orange was less fortunate. Tied 1-1, Louisville pushed its counter attack and a cross-field pass found star forward Mohamed Thiaw. He took three touches with defender Sondre Norheim in front of him before firing past goalkeeper Hendrik Hilpert. It became the deciding goal in a 2-1 SU loss.“We got caught a couple of times because we were too high,” Breitenmoser said.Though getting back on defense has burned the Orange at times, it has been beneficial to the offense. By winning the ball in the opposing half of the field, the offense can set up and attack. Possession is crucial, especially in close games, because only twice has Syracuse played a game not decided by one goal.Josh Shub-Seltzer | Staff PhotographerPlaying with wingbacks widens SU’s formation, dragging defenders to the outside and letting Syracuse push down the sidelines. By working with the backs and midfielders to push the offense upfield, wingbacks often end up near the end line before crossing the ball into the penalty area. It either deflects off the defense and results in a corner or is sent into a crowded box.Ricks’ offensive versatility has shone on set pieces, where he’s added two goals off headers, including the game-winner against Oregon State. He added a game-tying chip-shot goal from 30 yards out to tie Princeton in a game when SU struggled. Breitenmoser back-heeled a pass to Jonathan Hagman to score the Orange’s lone goal in a loss to Duke. He added a near-goal cross that the goalkeeper had to jump back and block away.“We’ve played a different couple formations this year and (Ricks and Breitenmoser) have been important parts if we play four or three in the back,” McIntyre said. “… They’re important parts in our identity in who we are.”To play wingback, fitness is essential. As the offense pushes up, so do the wingbacks. And when the ball is turned over or saved, they have to sprint back to play defense. Sophomore midfielder Mo Adams estimated a wingback can run up and down the field 50 times a game.And for most wingbacks, the position is new. Of Syracuse’s two starting wingbacks, only Ricks had experience at the position. With Liam Callahan and Oyvind Alseth manning the position in 2016, Breitenmoser played midfield occasionally and Ricks played only intermittently. This is the first year they’ve started in every game, and are backed up by Adnan Bakalovic and Simon Triantafillou.Before Syracuse’s game against Akron, Bakalovic and Triantafillou played irregularly and started in five and three games, respectively. But, on Oct. 3, McIntyre changed his rotation. Instead of taking out Ricks or Breitenmoser, he subbed out the both for Bakalovic and Triantafillou in the first half of both the Akron and North Carolina State game.All four players’ versatility shows in-game. Each has an aspect of an offensive game that has proven beneficial to SU. Then they run over half the field back, ready to make a stop on defense.“You need wingbacks who can cover the field,” Adams said. “… It suits the (four) players.” Comments
Tiger Woods is likely to find returning to the PGA Tour and playing behind closed doors “a little weird,” according to world No. 1 player Rory McIlroy.Woods will play at the Memorial Tournament this week, his first appearance since the Genesis Invitational in February, which was before the coronavirus pandemic took hold. “There’s a lot to be focused on this week. Memorial Tournament is one of the biggest events we play all year, and looking forward it is definitely the start of a big run [of tournaments].”I’m excited. It was nice to take a couple weeks off. I had planned to play the Workday [Open], but I just needed to do a little bit of work on my game, so I got my coach, Michael Bannon, over last week.”It was the first time I’d seen him since the start of February, so it was nice to spend some time with him, get some good work done and feel a bit better about my game and my swing looking ahead to the next couple of months.” He will start the event in a star-studded feature group alongside Brooks Koepka and McIlroy, who feels the 15-time major champion may need some time to adapt to playing without spectators present.MEMORIAL: Tee times | Leaderboard”The first three weeks that I played, Colonial, Hilton Head, Travelers, looking back on them, they were really good just to see and get a feel for what it was going to be like,” McIlroy said of no fans being in the gallery.”Now someone like Tiger has not experienced that yet, and maybe he is going to find it a little weird going out there [on Thursday] and not having anyone, especially with the amount of crowds that he has to deal with all the time when he plays. “I felt the first three weeks my mind was wandering a little bit. Sort of easy to lose focus, easy to lose concentration. I think some of the mistakes I was making were because of that.”I’ve realized personally that it’s very hard for me to keep focus out here. I feel like when there’s fans and there’s that energy and the atmosphere, it’s easy to get into that mindset that you need to get into. That [having fans] is what we’re used to, that’s what we do.”It was just a good look at what we we’re all going to expect going forward, and as I just alluded to there about losing concentration and losing focus, you just have to work really hard to keep your mind on the task at hand.”[Try] not let your mind wander because there’s so many opportunities for it to wander because we’re in big, open spaces and you’re looking around – you don’t have that sort of tunnel of people to keep your focus.”pic.twitter.com/LBKJWu40x8— TravelersChamp (@TravelersChamp) June 28, 2020McIlroy finished in ties for 32nd and 41st at the Charles Schwab Challenge and RBC Heritage, respectively, before improving to claim a share of 11th at the Travelers Championship.Having taken two weeks off and put in work with his coach Michael Bannon, the Northern Irishman feels more optimistic about his game coming into a tournament where he has claimed two top 10s in the last thee years.”Look, this is a huge event,” he said. “I saw a stat that this field is stronger than the last eight Masters tournaments in terms of strength of field, so there’s a lot of obviously World Ranking points.