We will rise to occasion – O’Neill

first_img They have their own business to attend to, notably kicking off a campaign with three straight wins for the first time in their history. And O’Neill has seen enough in recent experiences to be sure they will not be sidetracked by events in the stands. “When you come away from home you expect it and I think we’ll rise to it, not be intimidated by it,” he said. “It’s not at all a concern for us, I actually prefer it that way. “The first game against Romania behind closed doors was difficult for Greece but I think our players would have found that scenario difficult too. “I think our side enjoyed the great atmosphere at Windsor Park when we beat the Faroe Islands on Saturday night and there was a great atmosphere when we beat Hungary in Budapest. “We’ve seen this group of players in front of 60,000 people in Uruguay too, so I don’t have any fears about that.” O’Neill was not keen to be drawn on his squad’s status as potential record breakers and would be more than happy to add another point to the six that have taken them to top spot in Group F. The home contingent are expected to provide a hostile welcome on Tuesday night having been banned from Greece’s Euro 2016 opener against Romania due to previous disturbances. Defeat in that match, followed by a draw in Finland, means there is plenty riding on the result for Claudio Ranieri’s outfit but O’Neill is convinced Northern Ireland will not be cowed by the occasion. Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill insists the Greek fans hold no fear for his side as they go in search of an historic victory in Athens. Press Association Curbing any excess exuberance is more his style but he could not deny being buoyed by the confidence that has entered the group. ”Our aim hasn’t changed just because we’ve had a good start and Greece have had a poor start, our objective is to try and finish in those top three positions,” he said. ”When we looked at the fixtures when they came out and our best chances of getting points this wouldn’t have been a game we would have looked at. ‘We’ve never said we think we can win the group or anything like that, but the belief is in this squad that they are more than capable of competing. “The start we’ve had has given us the belief that we can come here and add to our points tally.” O’Neill let his measured demeanour slip just once as he pondered stretching the 100 per cent record into a third game and joked: ”I think would expect some sort of plaque or statue for that if I’m honest.” Gareth McAuley, who would win his 50th cap, is the only serious injury doubt having collided with the post against the Faroe Islands, while Shane Ferguson and Niall McGinn could drop to the bench in favour of more defensive options. last_img read more

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Defense leads Syracuse in dominant 19-7 win over Albany

first_img Published on March 27, 2019 at 8:13 pm Contact Eric: erblack@syr.edu | @esblack34 Albany’s bench collectively shouted at its offense as it struggled to get a good look at the goal. They counted down the seconds left on the possession clock.“30! 20! 10!”Its warnings didn’t help the Great Danes, who used 85 of the 90 seconds on the possession clock only to fail to attempt a shot. Instead, a last-ditch pass was deflected and scooped up by Kerry Defliese, who took the ball upfield.One minute later Syracuse turned the turnover into offense, as Nicole Levy recorded her third goal of the game and put the Orange ahead 5-1.No. 3 Syracuse’s (11-2, 3-1 Atlantic Coast) defense led the way in SU’s 12th-straight victory over Albany (5-5, 1-0 America East), 19-7. The Orange still have never lost a game to the Great Danes. And Wednesday marked the fourth-straight time SU held an opponent to single-digit goals — its longest such streak since the start of the 2017 season. Paced by Sarah Cooper, who tied a career-high with five caused turnovers, Syracuse forced Albany into committing more turnovers (18) than shots attempted (10).AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“From the beginning we stepped up,” SU head coach Gary Gait said. “Did what we needed to do in order to have success — the defense getting multiple turnovers.”SU took chances to deflect or intercept Great Danes passes. Ella Simkins whiffed to start the game, missing the ball on a cross-field pass. Her gamble led to Albany’s first goal of the game, but from there on out, the Orange’s defense delivered a nearly flawless performance.Cooper, recently named to the Tewaaraton Award watchlist, was an annoyance to the Great Danes. On one first-half highlight, she timed a jump perfectly and caught the ball in the pocket of her stick.The ball ricocheted out, though, and was picked up by Simkins, who pushed the ball upfield to Emily Hawryschuk. Hawryschuk found Levy, who scored easily to extend Syracuse’s lead.“(Deflecting shots and passes is) a pretty big part,” Cooper said. “To get the knock down and get a ground ball, pick off a pass or something, it’s really important.”The Orange even had defensive contributions from their attackers, as Megan Carney impacted SU’s rides. She caused a turnover when Albany defender Imani Hedgeman was running down the sideline in an attempt to clear the ball.Hedgeman was cornered by Carney and Meaghan Tyrrell and opted to double-back, turning over her left shoulder toward her bench. Carney anticipated the maneuver and smacked the ball out of Hedgeman’s stick. That turnover soon turned into a goal as well, as Morgan Alexander boosted Syracuse’s lead to six a minute later.While the ride aspect of Syracuse’s game has been successful all season, the Orange haven’t had much time to practice it because of their busy schedule. It also takes a lot out of the team, Gait said, so SU can’t dedicate too much time to improve it. Syracuse made a slight change to its ride strategy recently though, a shift that proved impactful on Wednesday against Albany.“We took the pressure off the goalie,” Gait said, “and dropped our four attack back instead of three. Utilized the bumping and shifting a little bit more.”Without having to focus on defending the goalie after offensive possessions, SU’s attackers were able to be more physical with Albany’s defenders. That paid dividends during the middle of the first half, when Hawryschuk forced Lara Podvin into turning the ball over back to SU’s offense, which capitalized again.Later on, a long possession by the Great Danes sparked more possession clock warning chants from their bench. This time, it wound to 10 seconds before Cooper caused another turnover. Fifteen seconds later, Tyrrell extended SU’s lead to seven.Then, it happened again. Cooper forced her fifth turnover, tying her career-high, during an Albany clear attempt. It earned Syracuse possession and two shots at the goal, the second of which was converted by Julie Cross. The midfielder, who scored a career-high three goals, dropped in her final score after a Great Danes turnover in the second half.Albany had been held scoreless for over 10 minutes, and with just 38 seconds left on its possession clock, called a timeout. Whatever play Great Danes head coach and former SU star Katie Rowan drew up failed though, because Albany still struggled to get an open look at the goal. As its bench started to count down again, a fan shouted from the stands, “Shoot! Shoot!” But the Great Danes never got off a shot attempt and were called for a possession clock violation.“We really just got good pressure,” Cooper said. “We got them on their heels, made them frantic, made them make some bad passes. We had our sticks in the way.”The Great Danes never strung together more than two goals in a row and ended up scoring nearly seven goals fewer than their season average. SU never led by fewer than seven after the 5:50 mark in the first half and wound up winning by its largest margin since Feb. 18. But in a game in which the Orange scored their most goals in over a month, it was their defense that made the difference. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

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