On the heels of four straight shutout victories, the USC women’s tennis team (16-2, 5-0) looks to finish strong in its final homestand of the regular season against Arizona (12-6, 2-3) on Friday followed by Arizona State on Saturday (10-5, 2-3).Ranked No. 4 in the nation despite seven straight victories, USC is looking to build off of their recent success after dominating the Pac-12 so far this season. Before the Women of Troy look ahead to an arduos road schedule to end the year, they first have to deal with two hungry conference rivals looking to play the underdog role to perfection at Marks Stadium this weekend.Arizona will rely heavily on their top two players this Friday as senior Natasha Marks an sophomore Lacey Smyth rank 66th and 81st nationally in singles and also combine to be a fearsome top-50 doubles squad as well.The Wildcats are looking for revenge on USC, who wiped the floor with Arizona in their last meeting during a 7-0 drubbing in 2010 and had to forfeit their Pac-12 match last season. Overall, USC leads the all-time series 45-15, but the Wildcats aren’t looking to even the series just yet as they set their sights on ending USC’s current winning streak.On Saturday, the Women of Troy take on the 29th-ranked Sun Devils, who come in on a two-game slide after being beaten by California and Stanford in back-to-back shutouts. Arizona State boasts one of the top singles players in the nation in No. 9 Jacqueline Cako as she poses a serious threat on court one against freshman Zoe Scandalis after defeating her in ASU’s only win in a 6-1 loss to USC earlier this season.On the doubles side, Cako and Joanna Smith form a competitive duo that is currently ranked No. 56 in the nation.For the Women of Troy to be successful, they have to start strong out of the gates, which has been an important part of their recent seven-game winning streak along with a fairly weak Pac-12 schedule. Earlier in the season, USC had a difficult time against quality teams because they would put themselves in a hole after losing the doubles point.Now, though, the Women of Troy have been able to save energy normally wasted on coming back in matches and focus that on closing out victories.Freshmen like Sabrina Santamaria, Gabriella DeSimone, and Scandais have shown maturity throughout the year and it’ll be interesting to note how they — and the rest of the Women of Troy — handle the wear and tear of a tough schedule both mentally and physically.
Published on January 23, 2017 at 10:59 pm Contact Jake: firstname.lastname@example.org Facebook Twitter Google+ Junior forward Stephanie Grossi said it was only a matter of time before the results would come. By crashing the net and focusing on rebounds, Syracuse has won four straight to put itself two points away from first place in the conference.“If you’re getting shots on net, you’re doing something right,” Grossi said. “The goals should be coming with the shots. … It’s one of the most frustrating things ever (not scoring on chances) and I think that happens to us a lot. … The little details are going to make a difference in finishing those plays.”Since a 7-2 loss to Cornell on Jan. 10, Syracuse (9-10-5, 8-2-2 College Hockey America) has outscored opponents 15-2. Save the occasional penalty, SU has dominated possession for most of the games and found scoring from a more balanced attack. In the last four games, SU has outshot opponents 142-59, peppering goalies from the blue line in.After scoring only 41 goals in the 20 games before the streak, SU is executing and putting shots on net. It’s now capitalizing on chances that were once missed. The team now sits at 2.3 goals and 27.3 shots per game.Better body positioning has helped. Anticipation on picking shot location rather than just shooting blindly and taking accurate shots has helped Syracuse’s scoring opportunities, too. With a power play that has scored only 13 times in 109 tries, a 11.9 percent clip, SU is sharper on the ice.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“If you actually look and pick corners and shoot to score, … it can make a big difference,” Laurence Porlier said. “It means we were all over them during the whole game.“You can outshoot a team and still lose.”Future opponent and conference leader Robert Morris (16-2-6, 9-1-2 CHA) visits this weekend. The Colonials give up only 2.2 goals and 27.3 shots per game, so Syracuse will have to keep up its current pace to have a shot at claiming first place in the conference.“It’s psychological, and we’ve really been working on it,” head coach Paul Flanagan said of the team’s goal to stay consistent. “We might have a good first period, a bad second period, good third period … you got to put 120 minutes together (on back-to-backs). It might be 180 to win a championship.” Comments