Field Hockey

Regan Spencer becomes consistent presence in net as Syracuse heads toward postseason

Sam Ogozalek | Staff Writer

Regan Spencer's .799 save percentage has helped the Orange enter the postseason strong in its national title defense.

Editor’s note: Syracuse field hockey head coach Ange Bradley has declined to partake in interviews with The Daily Orange following several requests. As a result, she isn’t quoted in this story. The Daily Orange aims to provide in-depth coverage of all SU sports and part of that coverage comes through speaking to head coaches. The D.O. will continue to request Bradley for interviews.

A Pennsylvania player drove toward the goal. The player let off a shot and goalie Regan Spencer dove, deflecting the ball back into the field of play. Retaining possession, Penn let off another shot. Spencer was right there, sticking out her leg and deflecting the ball yet again. In the second half of SU’s game with Penn, Spencer made three saves to preserve SU’s 1-0 lead on Sept. 25.

Since becoming starter at the beginning of the year, Spencer has been a source of reliability for No. 2 Syracuse (14-2, 4-2 Atlantic Coast), who enters the ACC tournament on Thursday at 1:30 p.m. against Wake Forest (10-7, 0-6). Her willingness to move out of net and stop opponents’ momentum has given Syracuse a huge advantage throughout the season.

“I don’t really doubt myself in-game,” Spencer said. “I rely on my instincts and what I’m good at.”

Spencer sat back in goal and watched Penn get past the Orange midfield in the game on Sept. 25. They broke into open space inside the SU defensive zone. As soon as the player took a hard touch on the ball, Spencer broke toward the player. She slid and swept the Penn player’s legs out from under her knocking the ball away.

Spencer’s confidence and instincts to run out and make diving stops are huge factors in her .799 save percentage, third among all Division I goalies. She gives up just 1.10 goals per game, trailing just Monmouth’s Christen Piersanti for the No. 1 spot. With Spencer in goal, SU has outscored teams 52-17.

“That’s probably how I caught (Syracuse head coach) Ange’s (Bradley) attention in high school,” Spencer said on her willingness to use her body to stop breakaways. “There’s a lot to be said for an aggressive goalie, because even if you miss the ball sometimes you make them do something (to mess up).”

Whether it be moving out of net and throwing her body at opposing players or waiting to make a diving save, Spencer has helped fill in the big hole that Jess Jecko left when she graduated from Syracuse.

In 15 of SU’s 16 games, Spencer has started in goal — then-Syracuse player Lucy Camlin accounted for the other start. Beforehand, she had appeared in just four games and logged 42:55 minutes. Now, she logs 70-plus minutes in every game.

“This whole season has been letting go of thinking that I’m going to be perfect every time,” Spencer said. “It’s easier for the defense to play when they know the person behind them is going to pick up.”

On Oct. 30 against Indiana, the Hoosiers pushed into Syracuse territory, trying to tie the game at one. The ball dribbled inside the circle and Indiana fired a backhand shot at Spencer. She stuck out her glove and tapped the ball away, getting back into position.

The game against Indiana ended in a 3-0 shutout for the Orange, Spencer’s fourth of the season. She has given up just one goal on seven different occasions. That’s 11 games in which Spencer has surrendered one or fewer goals. If Spencer is beat once, very rarely has she been beaten again.

Now with a whole regular season under her belt, Spencer has turned into one of the nation’s best goalies.

“(Regan) has made one of the most improvements I’ve ever seen in a player,” junior back Lies Lagerweij said. “Consistency for (a) goalkeeper is one of the most important and best assets to have.”

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