Midfielder Serra Degnan flies under the radar for top-ranked Syracuse

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Serra Degnan passed the ball up the right side of the field to Alyssa Manley, who took it in toward the circle. Manley quickly found a diving Liz Sack for a goal that put Syracuse ahead 3-0 over Monmouth.Sack and Manley embraced, but instead of joining her two teammates, Degnan fist-pumped, looked to the SU sideline, nodded and headed back to the midfield.She felt confident she had done her job.“I play a lot,” Degnan said. “It’s my team who helps me and allows me to make plays to help them. I don’t care about scoring or anything.”Listed as a forward but with the ability to play midfield, Degnan is the “heart and soul” of No. 1 Syracuse (13-0, 4-0 Atlantic Coast), according to head coach Ange Bradley, and a primary reason the Orange has excelled both offensively and defensively this season. Though her three goals, three assists and 12 shots are nowhere near tops on the team, the junior has started each game and quietly led the team with her awareness and communication.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“She’s steady and she’s a real servant of the team,” Bradley said. “She’s solid, simple, nothing flashy. She just is glue for us.”Even with mostly just high school experience — Degnan never played at the club level — she played in all 20 of the team’s games her freshman year, starting 16 times and scoring four goals. Last year, she started all 24 games — including the national championship — but only scored one point, which came on an assist in the fourth game of the season against Kent State.In a 9-1 Syracuse win over Cornell this season, Degnan scored two goals and tallied an assist in the breakout scoring game of her career. Without that game, her statistics once more pale in comparison to those of her fellow starters.But Degnan’s value is undeniable, forward Emma Russell said.“She’s a great communicator and she’s always organizing in the midfield, which sets the tone for the forwards in the attack,” Russell said.The ability to reshape the attack and defense is something that Degnan does particularly well, Russell said, as she has become more vocal throughout her career at Syracuse. Starting the game on the sideline just four times in her career has given Degnan the opportunity to learn on the job and now she’s able to react quicker to opponents.As she’s progressed from a quiet freshman to an upperclass veteran, Degnan finds it easier to relay what she’s seeing, providing help to her teammates.“Coming in freshman year, I worried about myself,” Degnan said. “This year, it’s on me to set the tone in practice and in games.”Russell first noticed Degnan taking on a bigger role as one of the team’s leaders this season during fitness training and conditioning sessions. As a player who’s effective in two positions, Degnan rarely comes off the field.Degnan admitted that she used to only focus on her own fitness, but this season’s been different. As one of the players in the best shape, she can be seen encouraging others to keep up with her.This year she’s been the primary “stick-stopper” on penalty-corner insertions. Degnan admitted it’s been nerve-wracking to be the table-setter for arguably the sport’s most important play, but it’s simply the next obstacle in an expanding arsenal.“She continues to impress on the field, and her role keeps increasing,” Russell said. “She doesn’t get the recognition she deserves, but her teammates know at the end of the game she’s a big reason we keep winning.” Comments Published on October 12, 2015 at 10:01 pm Contact Liam: lpsull01@syr.edulast_img

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