first_imgUnder a new formation, the Syracuse offense — without its No. 1 goal scorer of the last three seasons — has helped propel the Orange to its best season in more than eight years.“Last year, we had a different formation, different system, different players, and this system we thought would highlight the attributes of the players that we have,” head coach Phil Wheddon said.The 4-3-3 that the team plays focuses on maintaining possession and constructing plays to get the ball into the box.“We’ve got some speed up top and we’re trying to get numbers in the attack,” he said.That was on full display Sept. 13 in a 3-2 win over Connecticut. Syracuse scored three second-half goals, giving the program its first-ever victory against the Huskies.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe Orange (7-4-2, 4-1-1) is in second place in the Big East’s American Division with four games remaining on the schedule.After leading the team in scoring for three consecutive years, Tina Romagnuolo transferred to the University of Miami for her senior year. Several new faces have filled that void this season, as the Orange has scored as many goals in 13 games as it did all of last season.Syracuse has scored 19 goals this season and is averaging 15.2 shots per game. The Orange is averaging more than four more shots per game than last season.The team’s number of offensive options makes the Orange a difficult team to scout defensively, Wheddon said.“Now we’ve got three, if not four, players on the backline all the time making runs through their backline,” he said. “The fact that nine different people have scored says a lot about our depth.  I don’t think in the past we’ve had an awful lot of depth.”Many of those players are young, including sophomore Alexis Koval, who missed last year due to an injury. This year, Koval has the second-most goals on the team.As a forward in the 4-3-3, Koval is supposed to stay on the other team’s backline. She looks to play off the other attackers and get behind the opponent’s defense.“Alexis is a wide player, she can play wide on the left or wide on the right,” Wheddon said. “She has speed. She’s crafty on the ball. She’s very, very good on the left side. She’s mainly right-footed so she’ll cut in onto her right foot, and she creates a lot of goal-scoring opportunities because of the timing of her runs.”Alyscha Mottershead, a senior midfielder and the team’s leading scorer, said Koval’s game knowledge allows her to maximize her talents as a player.“I think she’s looked at the game tape they’ve shown us and the game plans that they’ve given us, and used them effectively and used her skills to the best of her ability,” she said.Mottershead scored two goals over the weekend, including the game-winner in double-overtime to beat Rutgers. The goals pushed Mottershead past Koval as the team’s leading goal scorer.The addition of an extra forward in the new formation has given Mottershead more opportunities to come forward unmarked into the box and score. It also allows Mottershead to utilize her passing ability.As a result, Mottershead has already equaled her number of assists from last season with two and has scored four goals so far. Last season, she didn’t score a goal.Wheddon said having players like Rosina Callisto and Hanna Strong at full strength has made the midfield unit much stronger, which has freed up Mottershead to attack a lot more.“She’s probably one of the best midfielders in the conference,” he said.“She wins balls in the midfield for us,” Wheddon said. “The accuracy of her passing — going forward finding people in the box finding forwards — is very, very good. Her role is to combine and link with the forwards and try and play them through, or even get in the box herself.”A native of Brampton, Ontario, Mottershead has been working with the Canadian national team through a number of camps when not playing for SU.Said Mottershead: “I learned a lot of stuff there, and bringing that back here, both the team and the staff have given me the tools that I can use to just allow those skills that I learned there, and learned over the past couple years, to just really come out this year.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on October 4, 2012 at 12:42 am Contact Jack: jstruitt@syr.edulast_img read more