England’s young lions tasked with avenging 2014 shame

first_imgLondon, June 9: Four years ago, there was a collective groan from the whole country as England were spectacularly knocked out of the FIFA World Cup in Brazil at the first hurdle.It was the first time England had been knocked out in the group stages since 1958, and the first time they have been eliminated after just two matches, reports Xinhua news agency.Four years on, Roy Hodgson’s successor Gareth Southgate hopes that among his 23-man squad there will be a winning 11 able to restore honour and glory. Since taking charge of the team, Southgate has lost only two of the 16 World Cup preliminaries, notching up eight wins and six draws.Southgate, who himself competed at the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Japan and South Korea, has named what he believes is a balanced squad with a mix of experience, character and youth.Uncapped Liverpool youngster Trent Alexander-Arnold, at 19, is the youngest member of the squad, while also gaining his first cap is Burnley’s 26-year old goalkeeper Nick Pope.Three 30 something players bring that helping of experience, with Chelsea defender Gary Cahill, at 32, topping the most-capped list with 58 selections for England. Manchester United’s Ashley Young, also 32, has earned 33 caps, and between them they have netted the ball 11 times for England.Forward James Vardy, at 31, is the next oldest player with 21 caps to his credit, as well as seven goals. Southgate has also included a sprinkling of younger players with just a small handful of caps, like Chelsea’s 22-year-old twice-capped midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek. Everton goalkeeper, Jordan Pickford, 24, will also be collecting his third cap.“I believe this is a squad which we can be excited about. It is a young group, but with some really important senior players so I feel the balance of the squad is good, both in terms of its experience, its character and also the positional balance,” Southgate said.Southgate described his team as one with a lot of energy and athleticism, but with players that are equally comfortable in possession.“I think people can see the style of play we’ve been looking to develop. The selection process has been over months really, it’s not just been the last few weeks,” he added.Southgate has gone for youth and hope over tried, tested and failed in his 23-man squad for the World Cup.Joe Hart and Jack Wilshere are out but Alexander-Arnold, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, 22, and Marcus Rashford, 20, are in.England will open their World Cup campaign against Tunisia in Volgograd on June 18. They will also meet Group G rivals Panama and Belgium, in the hope that the misfortunes of 2014 will not be repeated. IANSlast_img read more

Former SU field hockey standout, Laura Hurff, playing lacrosse this spring

first_imgOne day in third grade, Laura Hurff was “it” in a game of tag. After less than two minutes, Hurff had tagged everyone.She came up to her teacher, who happened to be her mother, Linda, and asked, “What’s next?” Linda remembered making sure not to make her daughter “it” again so the game would last longer.“That’s probably her biggest asset,” Linda said. “Her speed. She’s used it. I’ve always said she’s been given a God-given talent and that’s what you need to do, use it.”That speed helped Hurff become a three-time All-American in field hockey at Syracuse. She was part of the first women’s national championship at SU as a member of the 2015 field hockey team. She hopes to continue her field hockey career as an Olympian for the United States. For now, in her last semester as an undergraduate, she’s returned to her first sport, lacrosse, as a defender for the Orange (2-0) women’s lacrosse team. Hurff said she hopes it’s just another stepping stone toward her field hockey goals.“Her former high school coach was an old friend,” SU head coach Gary Gait said. “… She mentioned it when she was coming, you’ve got a really good lacrosse player that plays field hockey … Sure enough, we got that opportunity to have her.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textLinda played college lacrosse herself at Delaware. She was a member of the second-ever NCAA Division I women’s lacrosse national title team in 1983, her senior year.Syracuse field hockey head coach Ange Bradley, who played both lacrosse and field hockey at UD a few years after Linda graduated, was at that national championship game, Linda remembered. Bradley remembered Linda when Hurff first came to SU, Linda said.Because Linda had devoted much of her life to lacrosse, it was natural for Hurff to pick up a stick early in elementary school, trailing her mother to camps when she couldn’t be left at home. Hurff began playing club lacrosse soon thereafter.“She just pushed me to be the best that I could,” Hurff said, “and to be honest, without my mom coaching me when I was little I don’t know where I would have been.”  Anna Henderson | Digital Design EditorIn middle school, Linda was Hurff’s coach, meaning Hurff was never going to have a free pass. One gameday, Hurff went to the nurse’s office and her temperature was around 102 degrees. So Linda brought her daughter to her office in the school, had her sleep all day and made sure Hurff played well enough in the game’s first half that she could sit out the second.“If I told her to go through this wall,” Linda said, “she would have run through it.”In high school, Hurff played field hockey, basketball and lacrosse. Linda said she thinks her daughter could have played D-I lacrosse, and Hurff said the head coach at Delaware reached out about the possibility. But Hurff always wanted to play in the Olympics, and field hockey is in the Olympics, while lacrosse isn’t.Syracuse, which had turned into an NCAA tournament regular under Bradley, became the place for Hurff to use her speed. Though Hurff didn’t play her mother’s sport, she chose to wear the No. 14 that Linda wore at UD. By Hurff’s sophomore season, she had become the key cog at the heart of SU’s midfield, the year SU won its national title. She had reached the collegiate peak but was still chasing her Olympic dream.As a high schooler, Hurff spent time with the United States under-17 national team. The summer before her junior year, she played with the U.S. under-21 team. All that’s left to reach is the senior team. She’ll be away from Syracuse twice during the season, once for a camp later this week in Chula Vista, California, where the U.S. will take on Canada, and once over spring break.“My hope is that right after college, (U.S. head coach Janneke Schopman will) pull me up officially to the team, and we’re still waiting for that,” Hurff said. “I’m not gonna say that it’s definitely gonna happen because I have no idea but that’s just what I’m hoping will happen.”When Hurff reached out to Gait after the field hockey season ended, first via email and then in his office, she wasn’t sure what to expect. She and Linda had spoken about using a graduate year to play lacrosse, but Hurff took the initiative to finish her senior year with the sport.She feels lacrosse aids her chances of field hockey success. As a defender in lacrosse, Hurff gets opportunities to catch up with attackers, get in front of them and turn them. It’s a skill she hopes will translate to field hockey.Hurff isn’t sure how much she’ll play for SU. Hurff told her mother to get to games early, Linda said, to make sure she can watch her daughter play during warmups.But for the Syracuse senior, it’s not about the playing time. It’s about a chance to further her field hockey career. And it’s coming full circle in the first sport Hurff ever played.Two years from now, in Tokyo, the U.S. field hockey team will be playing in the Olympics. Hurff said she hopes she’ll be there playing, in the sport she chose to reach that peak.“Her mindset is, ‘I’m going, mom. I’m going to be there,’” Linda said. Comments Published on February 19, 2018 at 9:53 pm Contact Billy: wmheyen@syr.edu | @Wheyen3center_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more