first_img Published on January 30, 2012 at 12:00 pm Contact Stephen: [email protected] | @Stephen_Bailey1 Comments Trying to replace an All-American in Liz Hogan stands to be Gary Gait’s biggest challenge. Although with two talented goaltenders ready to step up and take over, the Syracuse head coach might have some of the burden taken off his shoulders.Either way, Hogan is gone and the No. 12 Orange has no choice but to proceed without her.‘Liz was great, all-time greatest goalie I think in Syracuse, and she’ll be missed,’ Gait said. ‘We appreciate everything she brought, but now it’s time to move on. We’ve got two new players that are looking to step in and fill those shoes.’Sophomore Alyssa Costantino and freshman Kelsey Richardson, the pair Gait referred to, are left with the tough task of filling the void left by Hogan. As the second-string goalie last season, Costantino learned under the Big East’s leader in save percentage, starting one of the five games she appeared in. Richardson, on the other hand, has no collegiate experience, but enters the season after a dominating senior campaign at Jordan-Elbridge High School. Gait said the two have performed comparatively thus far in practice and have an equal chance of starting the Orange’s season opener against No. 10 Boston College on Feb. 21.But that’s nearly a month away, and both goaltenders have opportunities inside and outside of practice to impress their coach to earn the starting job.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textSU traveled to Orlando, Fla., on Saturday for the U.S. Lacrosse Champion Challenge and a scrimmage against England — the team’s first live action of the season, excluding an alumni scrimmage last weekend in the Carrier Dome. It was also the first real chance for the goalies to prove themselves.So far, Gait likes what he has seen.‘(I’m) extremely happy. They’re very talented,’ Gait said. ‘It’s just going to take a little confidence building, to jump in there and make a few saves. I think you’ll see them really develop into solid goaltenders.’That development may be through a joint effort in games.Gait said it’s possible Costantino and Richardson split time throughout the season. By running a two-goalie system, Gait could provide both underclassmen with valuable experience while ensuring the Orange always has a capable backup on the sidelines.In practice now, though, both candidates are pushing each other for the leg-up to start against the Eagles in less than a month.For Richardson, the shots she’s facing now are harder and more accurate than those she faced in high school. During her senior year at Jordan-Elbridge, she recorded 197 saves and turned away 55 percent of shots against her.‘It’s definitely different,’ Richardson said. ‘The competition is better at this level, obviously, but I’ve had a lot of fun lately. Starting off the season, just coming into a new challenge and trying to fight for the spot, it’s been fun.’For Costantino, this season brings immense opportunity.She finished last season with a 38 percent save percentage and led the Orange to victory in her lone start. But behind an All-American and four-year starter, Costantino’s minutes were few and far between.Though she didn’t earn much on-field experience, Costantino learned and adapted to the college level under the tutelage of Hogan.‘As a freshman I think being a goalie is possibly one of the hardest positions to adjust to because you look to be relied on as the leader of the defense,’ said Hogan, who is now an assistant coach at Colgate. ‘But also you have to work up to the speed of the game, the shot selection, the shot placement.‘So I think as a freshman she adjusted pretty well, and hopefully with another year under her belt she’s actually improved even more.’Gait feels Costantino has improved, but not enough to separate herself from Richardson.The position battle has been highly competitive in practices, both goalies said. The two alternate turns between the pipes during 7-on-7s and other drills, and when one makes an impressive save, the other is driven to match it.‘It’s friendly competition,’ Costantino said. ‘It’s good to have that person to keep working against, and you’re trying your best every time because you’re trying to beat her out. So it’s only helping both of us.’The duo will continue working to improve so they can challenge opposing offenses this season.But, whether splitting time or playing with a consistent starter, the goalie tandem will be hard-pressed to fill the shoes left by Hogan.‘Me and Kelsey both have big shoes to fill,’ Costantino said. ‘We’re working on everything we can to be just like Liz.’[email protected]center_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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