Speedy Poplawski adjusts to switch from attack to midfield for Orange

first_img Published on February 10, 2015 at 12:05 am Contact Jon: [email protected] | @jmettus Taylor Poplawski wasn’t always able to use her biggest strength.As a freshman last season, her quickness and agility helped her weave through defenders. She scored eight goals in her first three games and finished the year with the fourth-most goals on the team.But playing attack was limiting the space in which she could use her speed. Syracuse head coach Gary Gait saw her talents being underutilized and moved her to midfield for this year.After coming off the bench as an attack, Poplawski has transitioned back to the position she played in high school to join No. 3 Syracuse’s (2-0) second-line midfield. Although she’s able to use her speed in transition, she still has improvements to make on the defensive end.“(She) creates some more depth at the midfield for us,” Gait said. “I think she’s embraced the move, the positional change, and I think it’s really going to help our team be effective in all areas of the offense.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“I think we can use her speed and athleticism in the midfield in riding, clearing. I think she’ll be looking at some north-south dodging in the midfield area.”At just 5 feet 2 inches, Poplawski is the smallest midfielder on the team, but the biggest challenge has been learning the defensive plays, she said. While learning what to do has been difficult, she said, the seniors on the team have been helping her out.Her first test this season came when Syracuse traveled to Florida to scrimmage Team USA in mid-January. The speed and intensity of the game were an adjustment from her high school days, Poplawski said. Gait said she played well, though, and didn’t make many mistakes.“The biggest challenge was keeping the intensity throughout the entire game,” Poplawski said. “Team USA, they’re so talented so it was really hard to keep up the energy, especially playing two back-to-back games against them.”In Syracuse’s game against Canisius on Saturday, Poplawski was able to show flashes of potential at midfield.On one play, she used her speed in open space to run past a defender and score. On the defensive end, she was able to recover from getting beat by stick-checking a Canisius attack from behind and knocking the ball loose.Though she had two points in the game, Poplawski held back the attacking instincts she developed last year and let newcomers Riley Donahue and Halle Majorana take over the scoring roles.“It’s a different team and a different offense and I think it’s just taking it one game at a time with this new team,” SU attack Kayla Treanor said.But at times, Poplawski’s growing pains as an adjusting midfielder at the collegiate level were evident.She stood flat-footed about 15 yards away from her own cage as Canisius midfielder Erica Evans ran past her toward the middle of the field. Poplawski struggled to catch up and Evans netted Canisius’ first goal of the game.A few minutes later, Canisius attack Lauren Smolensky cut past Poplawski toward the net and Poplawski had to illegally check her from behind as she tried to receive a pass.During some of SU’s rides, opponents were able to take Poplawski, who was guarding them, across the field and beat her down the sideline.After the game, she said her struggles could have been a result of fatigue.Still, Gait and Poplawski were happy with her performance and as the season progresses, Gait is looking for Poplawski to settle into the change.Said Poplawski: “More and more it feels more natural for me.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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