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Division II transfer Bibbs wins starting role due to toughness

first_imgNick Bibbs limped toward the sideline, his left leg unwilling to bend. After a few painful steps, he paused suddenly and fell to the ground. Lying flat on his back, Bibbs grimaced and held that left leg. ‘It was just killing me,’ he said. Bibbs, a starting midfielder on the Syracuse men’s soccer team, suffered a deep bruise to his quadriceps after colliding with a Pittsburgh player in Saturday’s game against the Panthers. SU head coach Ian McIntyre sat him out the rest of the half, but Bibbs returned to gut out 25 more minutes in a 0-0 game. ‘He’s a very physical, athletic player for us,’ McIntyre said. ‘He’s a bit of a warrior as well.’AdvertisementThis is placeholder text That warrior’s mentality has earned Bibbs a spot in the starting 11 on the Orange (1-4-2) in just his first year with the program. The transfer from Division II Caldwell College has started the last five games for SU as a defensive holding midfielder. Bibbs has relied on his athleticism and toughness to earn the respect of his teammates. Heading into Tuesday’s non-conference matchup at home against Canisius at 7 p.m., Bibbs is looking to build on his gritty performance from the weekend. For much of the second half Saturday, Bibbs found himself hampered by the injury to his quad. His limp worsened after every tackle. His face wrinkled in pain after every collision. But he played through. ‘It shows character,’ SU defender Jakob Karlgren said. ‘He wants to win. He wants to play. Even if you’re hurt a little bit, he’s still in there and taking a lot of knocks. It’s a good signal for the team.’ One play late in the second half embodies that mindset. With 22 minutes to go, the Panthers linked together a few passes, resulting in a wide-open shot attempt from the top of the 18-yard box. But out of nowhere, Bibbs came sliding in to get a piece of the shot. It slowed the ball down enough so SU goalkeeper Jeremy Vuolo could make a sprawling save to knock it wide. ‘I’m supposed to protect my back four,’ Bibbs said. ‘If the (opposing team’s) forward is floating around and trying to check to the ball, I take responsibility for him.’ All game long, Bibbs shined in his role as holding midfielder. Playing directly in front of the Orange defenders, Bibbs is responsible for marking up on any opposing forwards lurking and waiting for a pass. This allows his back line to stay further back and prevents the other team from getting in behind the SU defense. It is in this role Bibbs’ athleticism truly benefits him. Listed at 5-foot-11, 170 pounds, he is ‘not the biggest guy,’ in the words of McIntyre. But that doesn’t prevent him from being a force in the air. In addition to Karlgren and McIntyre, fellow midfielder Geoff Lytle also acknowledged Bibbs’ ability to win important head balls as something that makes him a unique player in the Orange’s lineup. ‘He gets up there and just hangs in the air,’ Lytle said. ‘It’s wild to see him. That’s something you really need from a defensive midfielder to win those head balls.’ And on a team that has struggled to score goals this year, a dominant header of the ball could be the much needed remedy. McIntyre said he is looking for Bibbs to keep pushing forward on attacking chances and to use his athleticism and leaping ability on the offensive end of the field. ‘He has an aggressive mentality to go after the ball,’ McIntyre said. ‘We think we can get some more out of him going forward with his aerial ability.’ Perhaps that something will come as early as Tuesday. The game against Canisius should provide the Orange with chances to experiment, while still coming away with three points. The Golden Griffins are 0-5-0 this season and have scored just one goal. Syracuse should win and do so dominantly. It can’t really afford to do anything else. ‘I think we let a few games slip already, and we’d be very disappointed not to come out with (the win) in this match,’ Bibbs said. ‘We’re going out there like it is a Big East game. It’s another match, and we have to win matches.’ After intense massages and ice baths over the past three days, Bibbs has done all he can to make sure he will be ready to go Tuesday night. For McIntyre, players like Bibbs are essential to the turnaround of the SU program. ‘We need players like Nick Bibbs in our lineup,’ he said. ‘He provides us a bit of personality and character.’ mjcohe02@syr.edu Published on September 26, 2010 at 12:00 pm Contact Michael: mjcohe02@syr.edu | @Michael_Cohen13 Commentscenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

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Ervin Philips bolsters Syracuse offense with return to lineup

first_img Published on October 8, 2015 at 10:22 pm Contact Matt: mcschnei@syr.edu | @matt_schneidman Ervin Philips ran an out route at Sunday’s practice, his first full one since injuring his left knee in Syracuse’s season opener on Sept. 4. He caught the ball and cut on the same knee, an identical sequence to the one preceding his 32-yard touchdown against Rhode Island that sidelined him for three and a half weeks.“Once I did that I was like, ‘alright, OK, so now I’m good,’” Philips said.The sophomore scored two first-half touchdowns against the Rams, but his injury left the hybrid duties to junior Ben Lewis and freshman Dontae Strickland. He watched the Orange play Louisiana State from the stands, which he said “messed with him mentally.” He tweeted earlier this week that he’d be back for the South Florida game this Saturday — possibly a premature announcement that was later taken down.But with head coach Scott Shafer declaring Philips ready to go on Tuesday’s local media teleconference, and with a week of full practice under Philips’ belt, the Orange (3-1, 1-0 Atlantic Coast) returns arguably its most dynamic offensive weapon ahead of its matchup with the Bulls (1-3, 0-1 American Athletic) at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday in Tampa, Florida.“He made some Erv Philips cuts in practice yesterday,” Shafer said. “… and I said, ‘It’s the new normal, buddy.’”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textPhilips, who would normally be deep on kick returns with Brisly Estime, is being limited just to offense for now. If needed on returns he’d be back there, Shafer said, but the head coach wants to restrict Philips’ reps as he becomes re-integrated.In the time Philips was out, Strickland accounted for three touchdowns — tied for most on the team through four games. As a slew of nicks and bruises sidelined starters at four other offensive positions, Philips watched. He admitted to rushing his rehab in anticipation of returning, a process trainers had to slow down.“It was a process, but it was a learning process,” Philips said. “… but I’m glad to get where I need to be now.”With Philips back, Syracuse is better equipped to fulfill the third goal of its offense. Pound the rock, protect the ball and make big plays were the three objectives offensive coordinator Tim Lester listed off. Nothing changes drastically in terms of play-calling, but Lester admitted Philips’ return adds more variety to the playbook. Outside Estime and wide receiver Steve Ishmael, nobody has reeled off a play of more than 34 yards.Philips thought he was playing one of the best games of his career when it screeched to a halt 30 minutes into the season. He was nervous making an identical cut on Sunday and still feels occasional stiffness. But with his return, the sophomore counted on to help redefine Syracuse’s offense now has a clean slate to do so.“Erv looks great,” Lester said.. “You always assume there’ll be some hesitation but I’ve been extremely excited about the way he’s moving.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

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