Syracuse grooming inexperienced defenders on corner kicks

first_imgThe importance of defending corner kicks isn’t lost on Syracuse’s inexperienced starting defenders. Even with freshmen Kamal Miller and Miles Robinson, SU’s veterans ensure the memories are still fresh.The Orange’s 2014 season ended in the third round of the NCAA tournament when Georgetown converted on two corner kicks — one in the 80th minute and a game-winner in overtime.It was the Hoyas’ only goals off corner kicks all season, and it’s a painful statistic that SU has translated into a newfound precision and delicacy.“It’s about knowing how much it means to defend set pieces,” defender Louis Cross said. “You don’t want to concede sloppy goals.”Syracuse has allowed only five goals in five games this season, but two have come off services from corners. The Orange (3-1-1, 0-0-1 Atlantic Coast) will continue to fine-tune its defensive mechanics with its youthful defense when it plays at Wake Forest (5-1, 1-0) on Saturday at 7 p.m. in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textSU was most recently victimized against Louisville on Saturday, when a soaring Cardinals corner kick penetrated the mob of players in front of the net. The ball ricocheted out of the box to an open Daniel Johnson, who converted on what SU head coach Ian McIntyre referred to as a “broken play.”“Defending restarts, you’ve got to understand your role,” McIntyre said. “Attack spaces and also ensure that your guy doesn’t end up converting the chance.”In the heart of the mosh of players was Miller, who said he saw some of Syracuse’s defenders mistakenly step out of the box to try and draw the Cardinals offside while others stayed back to defend.The Orange was caught in transition as it tried to acclimate to a zone formation to defend the corner kick. Louisville’s unique four-man attack caused SU to stray from it’s a man-to-man setup and play a single line of zone defense.Cross, Miller, Robinson and Juuso Pasanen stretched across the box in the unique formation, one that the Cardinals still found a way to penetrate.“We’re a new team and a young team,” McIntyre said. “We’re still learning and kind of tweaking some things.”McIntyre drills his players in practice about “having an appetite to defend.” Before each game, he decides what defensive formation his team will use to combat corner kicks based on his players’ abilities, not the opponent’s.Typically the Orange spreads itself out with men on each goalpost, one player in the middle of the six-yard box and one at the top of it while the remaining players match up with an opponent of similar size.Cross and Pasanen ensure McIntyre’s practice mantra is not forgotten. The duo has emerged as the de facto leaders on defense, verbally orchestrating the counterattack on each corner-kick attempt.“It’s really all about being hungry and trying to get to the ball first,” Miller said. “We just need communication from one person whether we’re going to step out (of the box) or stay in.”With players from the defense, midfield and forward positions all getting in the mix on corner-kick attempts, the aim for a defense is to control the chaos.Defensive mechanics continue to be groomed, but the consensus among Cross and Miller is SU’s entire counterattack has an equal understanding of the magnitude hanging on each corner attempt.“It’s a different mindset you have to have on a set piece,” Miller said. “You have to know you’re going to be first to the ball and that nobody else can get there before you.” Comments Published on September 16, 2015 at 10:24 pm Contact Connor: | @connorgrossman Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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