Published on April 25, 2011 at 12:00 pm Comments Gary Gait said Cornell is playing for respect. The Big Red has not had a strong season, struggling even more than Syracuse, but the upstate New York rivals are not to be discounted in the SU head coach’s mind.The unranked Big Red has a 5-7 record. Syracuse (7-7) has spent all but two weeks this season in the Top 25. Cornell lost at home to a Rutgers team that Syracuse beat on the road. Syracuse has played one of the hardest schedules in the nation this season. Cornell hasn’t.But Gait expects Cornell to come to the Carrier Dome and give the Orange a run for its money.‘They’re always going to play us tough,’ Gait said. ‘The last two years they haven’t been in the Top 10 or anything like that, but they’ve been tough to us. They show up. It’s an upstate rivalry, and I think they always play for respect.’Despite Tuesday’s matchup with Cornell being a single nonconference game amid a run of eight Big East matchups, Syracuse expects the Big Red to maintain or even escalate the level of play the Orange has been facing. Five of Cornell’s players went to high school in the greater Syracuse area, creating a local rivalry between the two squads.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textSyracuse has won its past four home games and is looking to continue its hot streak against the Big Red as the season enters the final stretch. SU is coming off a win Saturday against a Cincinnati team winless in Big East play. While the game was important for SU’s conference record — and also clinched a Big East tournament berth for the Orange — it was somewhat of a prelude to the Cornell matchup.Saturday’s game gave Syracuse a chance to experiment and work out the kinks. It fostered confidence. Even if that confidence will be tested by Cornell.‘You feel good,’ Gait said. ‘Everybody feels happy, but you’ve got to stay focused and mentally tough because you’re going to have a much bigger challenge coming Tuesday.’Although the Cornell matchup has no bearing on Syracuse’s playoff chances, senior attack Tee Ladouceur said the players do not think of the game any differently. Fellow attack Michelle Tumolo said any game can indirectly affect the playoffs.‘Every game’s a game,’ Tumolo said. ‘It’s just a step to getting better.’As has been the case for much of the season, Syracuse’s main focus will be on winning draw controls. The team struggled with winning the draw for much of the season.Cornell’s strengths lie in its offense. Syracuse will watch out for some leadership in the attack, specifically from the captain, Libby Johnson. Defender Janelle Stegeland said after watching film of the Big Red, the defense is preparing for some of its specific offensive plays.‘They’ve got a great crease play,’ Stegeland said. ‘We watched film this morning, and we see them running that a lot. So I think we’ll definitely be focusing on that.’But for a Syracuse team that is 2-6 in nonconference games, Cornell will provide a final chance to improve its record outside the Big East. This will also be the last game the seniors play at home, although Senior Night took place Saturday.Last year, Syracuse traveled to Cornell and won 7-6, thanks to a save by goalie Liz Hogan as time expired. Going into that game, Syracuse had a record of 9-4 while Cornell was just 7-5.So this year, SU looks at the matchup with Cornell as only a rivalry game once again. It goes beyond numbers, meaning the Big Red’s subpar season doesn’t mean a thing.‘Regardless of what either team’s records say, it’s going to be a good game, a hard-fought game,’ Hogan said. ‘We’re going to need to come out strong and play them well.’firstname.lastname@example.org Facebook Twitter Google+
There is a particular story Abedi Ayew Pele likes to tell when you ask about which of his sons three sons looked most likely to follow his footsteps into football greatness.He talks about Rahim Ayew’s doggedness from the start, his strong affection for everything sports and Dede Ayew’s desire from an early age to play football too.Then there is Jordan Ayew, who Abedi says fancied a career as a Formula One driver and never quite bothered about football. Abedi also always adds that all that was despite the fact that Jordan was easily to him the most talented of the three.Dede Ayew follows a similar narrative when you ask about his brothers. The Swansea forward has become the shining light of the family now, the torchbearer for a family whose roots in football runs deep and at the highest level. For him Jordan Ayew has always seemed special.It is not a universally held opinion.Dede is viewed as the closest thing to the Abedi Pele who made us fall madly in love with the European champions league, the Abedi who could drag the Black Stars through the most difficult game and the Abedi some loved to hate but couldn’t help applauding when he pulled off some of those insane skills and won games for Ghana so often. There is even something in their body language on the football field; the constant encouragement by clapping hands to teammates and the way that left hand is bent almost as if the captain’s armband must be worn at a specific angle.For Dede, the initial resentment, some of it fuelled by nothing other than his background and status of his father has given way to admiration at how much effort he puts in and how well he has done in a football sense.And the more you look at the Jordan Ayew story, the more you feel he is at that stage now too. The new Aston Villa striker, it seems can’t do much right in the eyes of many Ghanaians. He is lampooned and picked on regularly.People moan about the way he wears his pants, parents complain it will influence their kids the wrong way and some can’t stand the fact that he has a permanent surliness about him. When Jordan Ayew skins a German defender, runs the full length of the half and goes for goal himself rather than pass, it becomes the definitive reason why Ghana didn’t make the knockout stage of the World Cup.Everyone conveniently forgets that in the same game Agyemang Badu hit a shot over the bar in a three on two situation with Dede Ayew and Asamoah Gyan either side of him.So in a way the Premiership represents Jordan’s best chance to win over many of those whose default mode is to question everything about him from his talent and attitude to how he dresses on the pitch.It is a massive stage. At 23 years he has considerable experience at the highest level already. Two Africa Cup of Nations, played in two semi finals, one final, played in World Cup games, European champions league ties and Ligue 1 experience is a good resume for any footballer that age.But the premiership will be different.There will be many Aston Villa and Ghana fans watching every movement. For Villa fans the demand will be simple; for him to score goals and help them bin Christian Benteke’s memory for good. For Ghana fans it will be to prove to the world we have proper ballers from here.The good thing for him is that in this case he can kill two birds with one stone.If he scores for Villa with the whole country watching, his reputation will only soar here and while there may never be a wholesale acceptance of his strong personality, there will be respect for Jordan the footballer. That is what the Premiership offers him: a stage to grow his personal brand and reputation because this is the league we all love to watch.In a way it is unfair to the national stars who don’t play there and Jordan is a case in point. His form for Lorient last season was stunning.He scored goals from outside the box, he scored tap ins, he scored headers, he scored penalties and he set many up too. He has pace and can beat a man in a one on one situation any day.But he did a lot of those away from the glare of a public hyper critical of him. Now he can do it as they watch and maybe appreciate him more. It will not be easy by any means. Those Benteke shoes are massive to fill but those same shoes will offer encouragement. A talented young man who came over from Belgium and took his opportunity with both hands. There will be pressure on Jordan to do same and his ability to shut everything out and just concentrate on football will come in handy.It may represent a gamble for Aston Villa but so is every transfer. Hopefully Jordan will take his chance begin to change the sometimes negative narrative beginning to cloud his fine talent.–Michael Oti Adjei is a senior writer at Allsports.com.gh. Follow him on Twitter @OtiAdjei
Already without shortstop and cleanup hitter Hanley Ramirez (back) and center fielder Andre Ethier (ankle), Mattingly sent fresh-from-Albuquerque rookie Nick Buss to start in right field, planted Skip Schumaker as the No. 5 hitter and playing center and had Jerry Hairston Jr. go out to left field, since Carl Crawford was having back problems as well.Add to that .228 hitter Dee Gordon in the leadoff spot and playing shortstop, and Edinson Volquez given another chance to make a start on the mound with his ERA just shy of six.A bases-loaded-clearing double by Adrian Gonzalez off Giants starter Ryan Voglesong in the fifth inning gave the Dodgers a 3-1 advantage for Volquez, who had struck out six to that point and gave up a solo homer to Pence to start the second inning prior to that.In the sixth, Volquez gave up a two-out single to Brandon Belt, and having hit the 85-pitch mark, drew pitching coach Rick Honeycutt to the mound.Three pitches later, Pence took Volquez deep again into the Dodgers bullpen, and the Dodger pitcher’s day was over with the scored tied at 3-3.“Everything felt fine, I just didn’t execute,” said Volquez, who struck out seven and got nine groundouts. “I’ve faced (Pence) a lot in the past, and he’s just hot right now. Just made two change-ups that he hit.”Mattingly said of Pence: “That’s one guy you really don’t want to be leaving the ball up to at all. Volquez didn’t execute a couple of pitches and he made us pay.”Rodriguez, the fourth Dodgers pitcher and one who pitched scoreless relief in 39 of his previous 43 appearances since early June, went full count to Pill before his go-ahead home run was deposited into the left-field corner for the one-run San Francisco lead.Buss, who had his first major-league hit in his debut on Saturday night, looped a single to right to start the bottom of the ninth against Giants closer Sergio Romo. Nick Punto sacrificed him to second, and Buss was held up at third base after a sharp single to right by Gordon, who reached base in his last three at-bats.Gordon’s steal of second on a 1-1 count to Mark Ellis opened first base, but Romo went after Ellis and struck him out.Walking Gonzalez intentionally for the second at-bat in a row brought up reliever Ronald Belisario’s spot – and another spotlight moment for Puig to the roar of the 47,302.One pitch later, it was over. Fielding a lineup that looked more like an optical illusion than a pennant contender, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly ended up sending supposedly too-injured Yasiel Puig as his make-or-break pinch hitter with two out in the bottom of the ninth and the bases loaded.Instead of another walk-off victory that would have shrunk the magic number to three heading into a four-game series against runner-up Arizona, Puig smacked the first pitch to Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford, who flipped to second baseman Joaquin Arias to end the game and series.Puig, whose sliding catch in center field during an otherwise forgetful 16-run loss Saturday night apparently inflamed the hip enough to have himself removed, conveyed to Mattingly on Sunday morning he’d be OK to pinch hit, just not serviceable for outfield play.That was hardly the way Mattingly framed the injury to the media about 2½ hours before the game, going so far as to say Puig could be out up to two weeks, while adding that he was joking.“I was ready just like every other player,” the 22-year-old from Cuba said through an interpreter of his pinch-hitting appearance afterward. “They came to me to hit and I was ready for it. Sadly it didn’t turn out like I wanted it to, but I was prepared just like the other guys.” Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Stuck on four. No less, no more.The Dodgers failed to move the needle any closer to clinching the National League West for the second day in a row, but at least the stalled pursuit led to more international intrigue during a 4-3 loss to the San Francisco Giants on Sunday at Dodger Stadium.An eighth-inning pinch-hit homer by Brett Pill off Dodgers reliever Paco Rodriguez, in addition to two more home runs by Hunter Pence, was just enough for the Giants to secure three of the four games and prevent the Dodgers from doing any sort of celebration during their extended stay in L.A.Not even Arizona’s win over Colorado in Phoenix did the Dodgers any favors.