Field Hockey: Orange caps busy weekend with easy win over Ball State

Kati Nearhouse scores twice in Syracuse debut to lead offense.

Following a victory over Albany on Saturday, No. 5 Syracuse carried a 5-0 record into Sunday’s non-conference finale against Ball State.

The Cardinals also entered the match undefeated, and in order to remain perfect, the Orange needed to ace arguably its toughest test to date.

It did with flying colors.

Both Kati Nearhouse and Lauren Brooks scored a pair of goals as the Orange offense steamrolled to a 5-0 victory at J.S. Coyne Stadium. SU has now started three-consecutive seasons with at least six victories.

“We had better composure today in our attack,” SU head coach Ange Bradley said. “We could go play our Syracuse style of hockey.”

The Orange controlled play from the outset, as junior Emma Russell and Freshman Lieke Visser both tested Ball State (3-1) goalkeeper Shelby Henley with shots during the first five minutes.

Syracuse’s (6-0) patience in the offensive end finally paid off. After a close call on a penalty corner, graduate student Nearhouse recorded her first goal of the season off a rebound at 18:09 to give the Orange an early 1-0 lead.

Nearhouse was thrilled that she played so well in her first game of the season.

“It’s great to finally be out there and playing with the team,” Nearhouse said. “You’re nervous before every game, especially your first one back, but I’m just excited to play.”

Senior Lauren Brooks scored in the waning moments of the first half to give the Orange some breathing room. On a well-designed play just inside the circle, Brooks cashed in a nifty pass from impact freshman Lieke Visser for her team-leading sixth goal of the season.

Visser now has nine assists this season and at least one helper in her past four games.

Brooks spoke highly of her chemistry with Visser.

“She’s an awesome distributor,” Brooks said. “It’s really nice to have her on the field. She reminds me of (graduated player) Leonie Geyer from last season. She’s really good at finding the seams between the defense and finding us all up front.”

At the half, Syracuse held a commanding 12-1 shot advantage. In total, SU launched 28 to Ball State’s four.

The floodgates opened for Syracuse in the second half thanks to Brooks, who continued her potent tag-team combination with Visser and scored her second of the game at 47:07.

Visser showed she wanted in on the scoring, too. Her second goal of the season at 52:05 expanded the lead to 4-0. The goal capped a five-point day for the rookie.

Nearhouse bookended her impressive debut performance with a goal in the 65th minute off a quick strike just inside the circle.

SU begins ACC play Friday with a visit to North Carolina.


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