“But we’ve got confidence that we can go there and win it again. We’ve done it before, so why can’t we do it again? “There’s a lot of confidence around the team at the moment, despite the draws. We’re keeping the door shut at the back, which is great for the defenders. We know if we can get a few goals, then we’ll pick up a win.” Gus Poyet’s men will run out at St James’ having recorded their 10th draw in 16 Barclays Premier League outings so far this season after West Ham left Wearside with a point on Saturday. They have won only two league games to date and while that is a concern, Fletcher prefers to concentrate on the positives. He said: “It depends how you look at it. We got another point on the board against West Ham. I know we’ve got a lot of draws this year, but last year we were losing these games. “Now we’re keeping the door shut at the back, which is good, and we just need to take our chances and convert them into wins.” Sunderland striker Steven Fletcher is determined to make up for lost time as he goes in search of a fourth successive derby victory over Newcastle. Press Association The 27-year-old Scotland international scored in last season’s 2-1 victory over the Black Cats’ arch-rivals at the Stadium of Light, but missed their back-to-back 3-0 wins at St James’ Park through injury and is hoping to play his part in a famous hat-trick on Tyneside this Sunday. He told the Sunderland Echo: “I’ve missed both 3-0s when we’ve been there, so I’m looking forward to it. I wasn’t even at St James’ for both of them. I was stuck watching television with a moon boot on.
Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on April 1, 2015 at 9:40 pm Contact Chris: [email protected] | @ChrisLibonati Kaeli O’Connor ran to the end line with her arms extended. She ran through Boston College’s Caroline Margolis and knocked her back a few feet as she toppled onto the ground. The hit prompted BC head coach Acacia Walker to step forward a few steps to yell, “That was hard.”But that is how O’Connor has played this whole season and her whole life. The sophomore has improved her footwork to match her aggressive defense – fellow defender Mallory Vehar, also her buddy in the team’s defensive buddy system, called her “a bulldog” — to fit into Syracuse’s defensive scheme this season. In middle school, O’Connor played football for her father, helping ingrain toughness in her. She’s tied for second on SU with 10 caused turnovers and is tied for third on the team with 16 ground balls. And after playing in just six games last season, O’Connor has started all 12 games this season as one of two defenders on the crease and will play a key role in SU (8-4, 1-2 Atlantic Coast) defending Virginia Tech (6-7, 0-4) on Saturday at 10 a.m. in the Carrier Dome.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“There’s no hesitation. Ball’s on the ground, she’s going to get it,” SU associate head coach Regy Thorpe said. “She’s a pitbull and she wants the ball in her stick.”Since a young age, O’Connor was aggressive. Having two brothers helped her toughen up and her father said she could always hold her own with them. Because she is a long-time Baltimore Ravens fan and her brothers were able to play football for her father in middle school, she decided to play, too. Some parents gawked, but her father Patrick said it was never odd coaching his daughter. She played defensive end for the football team and could match the boys who hadn’t quite peaked physically. Even for her age, she was fast and he had no qualms about her playing a physical sport. Though she stopped playing football, she carried the aggressive mentality to lacrosse. The first time she played in front of Gait when he was recruiting her, she gave a hard foul. It made her father nervous because he knew a scholarship was on the line. But in the end her style meshed perfectly with SU’s system.“The style that Syracuse plays fit her personality and the way she plays. I mean, they’re very aggressive,” Patrick O’Connor said. “They like to play a lot of pressure and that’s the way she likes to play.”But when O’Connor came to SU, three seniors anchored the Orange’s defense. Her aggressive style had to stay on the bench for her first season. O’Connor went to Sweat Performance, a training gym, this summer. Every morning at 6 a.m. she would work with a trainer for an hour.“It was a lot of footwork,” O’Connor said. “It’s what I focused on because that was probably my weak point last year.”At the same time, she participated in a Baltimore-metro summer league that is the equivalent of a pick-up league where players such as Maryland’s Taylor Cummings competed. O’Connor used the league to improve her stick work and build on her aggressiveness and athleticism. This season, that work has shown and she even finished second in the team’s 40-yard dash, Thorpe said. It’s a far cry from where she stood last year, and that might’ve been just because she didn’t realize what she could do.“Last year, I think she kind of didn’t realize her potential,” Vehar said. “This year, I think she came in ready to work, ready to go, learn the defense. She really proved herself since last year.” Comments