first_img Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on February 6, 2012 at 12:00 pm Contact David: [email protected] | @DBWilson2center_img Last year, Syracuse called on its defense to prevent other teams from scoring while its young offense continued to develop. Though the defense wasn’t great, the offense was the bigger liability for the Orange.A year later, SU is leaning on its offense, which has transformed from youthful and inexperienced to a unit defined by depth.‘It’s definitely a great thing to have,’ midfielder Sarah Holden said. ‘It’s going to be hard to scout us just because we’re going to have a well-rounded attack.’SU entered nearly every game with Liz Hogan in net last season. The All-American led the Big East in save percentage and was 10th nationally. Meanwhile, the offense ranked in the bottom half of the nation in goals per game with just more than 12. But now, even with Hogan gone, No. 12 Syracuse still has lofty expectations with nine starters and four of its five leading scorers returning from last season.Michelle Tumolo is the unquestioned leader of that bunch. The junior attack, who was named the Big East’s Preseason Offensive Player of Year, was Syracuse’s leading scorer a season ago with 63 points. Tumolo also set SU’s single-season assist record for a sophomore last season.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textWith a talented and capable cast surrounding her, Tumolo is excited to spearhead the offensive attack.‘It’s good because then the defense on the opposing team doesn’t know who to mark,’ Tumolo said. ‘It’s great to have everyone who scores because if I’m covered, Alyssa (Murray) can score. If Alyssa’s covered and I’m covered, we’ve got Katie Webster. Everyone’s an option and everyone’s a weapon. It’s great to have balanced scoring.’Webster and Holden could benefit the most from Tumolo’s stellar passing. The midfielders finished tied for second on the team in goals last season with 32 apiece — a plateau neither feels would have been attainable without Tumolo.‘I love when Michelle has the ball down low,’ Webster said. ‘You know she’s either looking to go 1 v. 1 because she’s quick or she’s got that quick pass. She’s a great assister.’The fourth cog to this potential offensive machine is Murray. The sophomore was second on the team in assists last season to give the potent duo of Webster and Holden yet another distributor.But what makes expectations so high for Murray and Webster in particular is the progress expected between their freshman and sophomore seasons.Last year, they were thrust into action as freshmen for a mediocre offensive unit. Though the young Orange had an up-and-down 2011 campaign, it could pay off this season. With a year of full-time experience under their belts, the sophomores are a year ahead of where most sophomores are expected to be.‘It definitely helps all of us,’ Murray said. ‘We all learned, whether we were on the offensive side or the defensive side. … You just learn a lot just being on the field, knowing the experience, getting all the nerves out that way when you come back the next year. You’re like a vet.’The biggest question this season is how the team replaces Hogan. Though SU head coach Gary Gait has been impressed with the play of Alyssa Costantino and Kelsey Richardson in net, it’s impossible to replace a goaltender like Hogan.So the Syracuse offense will have to pick up the slack and carry the team as it adjusts in net.‘Our coaches are really stressing the importance of going hard all the time, and I think you’re definitely going to see a lot more goals with us, and we’ve been working on our shooting, so hopefully we’ll be better finishing,’ Holden said. ‘… Look to see a lot of goals and hopefully less goals on the defensive end.’[email protected]last_img read more