WSOC : Orange clinches spot in Big East tournament with dramatic win over South Florida

first_img Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ In a season that’s provided countless dramatic goals for Syracuse, Cecilia Borgstrom’s score topped them all.With 1.9 seconds left in the second overtime period between Syracuse and South Florida on Friday, Borgstrom wound up from just outside the box and sent a shot to the upper left corner of the goal as the horn sounded off to signal the end of the game.Pandemonium ensued, with all of Borgstrom’s teammates rushing to her in celebration. With the win, Syracuse solidified a spot in the Big East tournament.‘I didn’t know how many seconds, how much time was left, so I got the ball, and I just hit it as hard as I could,’ Borgstrom said.And by putting as much force behind the shot as she could, SU (7-5-3, 6-3 Big East) finally broke through for a thrilling 1-0 double overtime win in front of 237 at SU Soccer Stadium. The Orange applied offensive pressure throughout the rainy night, firing seven shots on net against a South Florida (5-7-4, 1-5-3) team at the bottom of the Big East.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textBut with only a few minutes to go in the contest, SU head coach Phil Wheddon wanted the Orange to put even more pressure on the Bulls defense.Syracuse put three shots on net in the final minute. Freshman Megan Hunsberger fired a shot that was saved by USF goalie Nicole McClure. Then fellow freshman Hanna Strong hit a shot that clanked off the post. That’s when the ball deflected to Borgstrom.It was almost déjà vu for Borgstrom, who had a quality one-on-one opportunity a few minutes before. Instead of depositing the easy chance in the net, she booted it right at McClure for an easy save.Borgstrom said although the earlier blown opportunity wasn’t on her mind the second time around, it was still nice to earn redemption.For Wheddon, it was a risk pushing more players in the offensive third of the field, but one he was willing to take.‘We played a little more direct the last couple of minutes banging that ball forward,’ Wheddon said. ‘But we had to be careful because South Florida had a lot of team speed as you saw, and if we sent a lot of numbers forward, they’d counter us and I fancy their chances.’What made it even riskier for Syracuse was the fact it would clinch a trip to the playoffs with just a tie against South Florida. With Providence, a team in pursuit of the Orange in the American Division standings, losing earlier Friday, all SU needed was to battle to a deadlock.But getting the win for the playoff clincher was that much sweeter because last year South Florida ruined SU’s playoff hopes.‘They kicked us out of the Big East tournament last year, so we had a little fight this time, so we wanted to win really bad,’ sophomore defender Kayla Afonso said.And Wheddon made sure to use that as a motivational tool going into the contest that it was USF that spoiled the Orange’s season in the final regular-season game last year.That certainly translated onto the field. Although the sloppy conditions resulted in players slipping and sliding all night, both teams jostled aggressively on and off the ball.The two teams combined for 24 fouls, including one yellow card on an Orange player. After the game, there wasn’t a single Orange player whose primarily white jersey wasn’t dirty from grass stains and mud.And while Wheddon doesn’t preach going after opposing players, he certainly doesn’t want to see his team bullied.‘Every game is physical,’ Wheddon said. ‘The thing I’m proud of is our team doesn’t back down. We don’t go out with the intention of being physical, but we’re not going to back down when we’re getting thrown around a bit.’Overall, the game was a microcosm of the season Syracuse has endured — nothing came easy, but in the end SU figured out a way to pull out the victory.The word Wheddon used to describe his team was resiliency, something he said he didn’t see as much in previous years.And it’s that resiliency Wheddon expects from his team throughout the final two games and into the playoffs.But the first thing Wheddon offered his team after the emotional win was a job well done.Said Wheddon: ‘Obviously, the first thing that I said to them was, ‘Congratulations, you’re in the Big East tournament.”[email protected]center_img Published on October 16, 2011 at 12:00 pmlast_img