National rankings meaningless to Bradley, SU field hockey

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first_img Comments For now, the rankings don’t mean a thing to Ange Bradley. For the past two seasons, No. 8 Syracuse has started off ranked in the Top 10 of the preseason NFHCA poll. But rather than focusing on the rankings, the SU head coach wants her squad to focus on bettering itself each week. ‘We just have to work on getting better,’ Bradley said. ‘We have to compete and be better than we are. I mean, this year’s team hasn’t done anything yet.’ The Orange already has two losses on the year, and a Top 10 ranking in the Kookaburra/NFHCA Division I Poll doesn’t make either of them easier to swallow. Unlike the year the Orange went to the final four (2008) — when they started the season ranked No. 18 — these past two teams have began the season with a major target on their backs. Last season the Orange started off the year ranked No. 3 in the poll and ended the year with a second-round loss in the NCAA tournament. This year Syracuse was No. 8 in the preseason and has experienced as many losses six games into its schedule as it did throughout the entirety of the 2008 season. Bradley said she doesn’t let the polls change the way she coaches, but she does recognize the rankings can have an effect on her young players.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text ‘They’re kids, and they read on the Internet, they read the paper,’ Bradley said. ‘You have to make sure they focus on themselves every day and don’t become entitled and think that they are better than they are, because it’s just a number. ‘If that ever slips in the mentality of the team, that’s why I’m here, with a big foot to bring them back to reality.’ Two weekends ago, the Orange experienced its first loss of the year when it traveled to Columbus, Ohio, to take on No. 14 Ohio State and unranked Kent State in a two-day span. The Orange impressed in the first game, taking down the ranked Buckeyes 2-1 in overtime. But SU then lost by the same score in overtime to the Golden Flashes — a team Ohio State would go on to defeat 4-0 the next day. Syracuse dropped to No. 9 in the polls after the loss. Junior midfielder Martina Loncarica said for the team to avoid another setback, SU must ignore the rankings and concentrate on playing as a team. ‘We just have to stay focused because if you don’t, you lose,’ she said. ‘That’s what happened to us against Kent State. We just were very individual, and we lost at the end because we were not connected.’ But the Orange won’t be favored in every game this year. Syracuse has three teams on its schedule that currently have a higher ranking. The first of the four games was on Sunday, when the Orange lost to the third-ranked Virginia 2-1 in overtime. Loncarica said she appreciates the recognition for the team’s hard work in the polls, but she prefers to play the role of underdog. ‘I would like to say that all the games are the same, but they are not,’ Loncarica said. ‘When you play against a team that’s ranked higher than you, you definitely want to beat them. Even though I said before that we don’t care about the ranking, it’s very exciting because you challenge yourself to challenge the team.’ The other higher-ranked opponents on SU’s schedule are No. 4 Princeton (Sept. 19) and No. 6 Connecticut (Oct. 23). Junior midfielder Liz McInerney is in her first season with the Orange, and she has heard all about the trip to the final four in 2008. For her, the rankings don’t mean anything. She knows what the team is capable of. ‘I think we can go all the way this year, so I don’t pay much attention to the polls,’ McInerney said. ‘We are just coming together as a team, and we are just building up.’ [email protected] Published on September 14, 2010 at 12:00 pmcenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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