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Syracuse’s strong defensive performance overshadowed in 2-2 draw against No. 22 New Hampshire

first_img Published on September 8, 2019 at 11:36 pm Contact David: ddschnei@syr.edu Syracuse had defended well all game, but misplays and poor marking jobs could mean its once two-goal lead would vanish. The Orange were five minutes away from escaping with a win when one final mistake cost them a win over a ranked opponent.New Hampshire’s Donnett Sackie, a stocky, 6-foot-3 target man, snuck in front of SU’s Sondre Norheim at the front post and connected with a Fabian Lutz cross, sending it over the head of goalkeeper Jake Leahy and into the back netting. “Their best header of the ball had a free header,” SU head coach Ian McIntyre said. “There’s a big sign over him saying, ‘I’m going to head the ball.’ And he did.”Syracuse (1-1-2) defended convincingly but drew No. 22 New Hampshire (2-0-2), 2-2, with mental lapses at the center of both of the visitors’ goals Sunday night at SU Soccer Stadium. The Wildcats registered two shots on target, scoring both. After UNH’s two second-half goals, the sides played a full 20 minutes of overtime, the second time each squad has gone to extra time in the last three days.The first half belonged to the home team, both on offense and defense. Syracuse used through balls down the wings to unlock New Hampshire’s defense. The passes often found Hilli Goldhar or Ryan Raposo, whose crosses directly led to the Orange’s two goals. The visitors didn’t have the same success on the opposing end. Tidy marking from SU defenders Norheim, Nyal Higgins, and Noah Singelmann kept UNH’s forwards from receiving balls sent by the Wildcats’ midfield.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“We had a very good first half,” McIntyre said. “If we score a third goal, I think the game is over. We didn’t, and we stopped playing (like we had been) in the second half.”Sackie attacked 50-50s at full speed like a battering ram, sometimes fouling the defender trying to shield him. Chris Arling, 6-foot-2, posed a similar threat but played more as a hold-up man rather than a runner. Bilal Kamal pulled the strings just behind the two forwards, using quick, elusive movements to try and evade SU’s physically-superior backs.“It gives them a lot of variety,” Norheim said about the different players in UNH’s attack. “They were strong and quick and good on the ball.”But regardless of what was thrown at them, the Orange’s defense was unwavering in the first half. When New Hampshire possessed the ball in its attacking third, SU typically had seven players back — all but the two forwards and attacking midfielder — in a compact defensive system. The Wildcats’ forwards and midfielders were often met with a Syracuse player on their back the moment they received the ball.Higgins found himself in a constant battle with Sackie, coming out on top in foot races and aerial battles. New Hampshire logged just its second shot of the night with 25 minutes remaining in the game. Over the following four-minute span, the Wildcats rattled off four of its eight total shots, the last of which was their opening goal. After two failed clearances by the Orange, SU’s Brian Hawkins brought down Lutz a few yards outside the penalty area. On the ensuing free kick, Antonio Colacci’s ball found Rory O’Driscoll’s head, then Leahy’s glove before falling to Kamal’s feet. The freshman poked it in, and the Wildcats had 20 minutes to generate an equalizer.“We gave away a sloppy free-kick, we gave balls away in our half,” McIntyre said about the UNH’s first goal. “And they’ve done us on a restart, which is very avoidable. We’ve had too many big guys in the wall.”Syracuse’s defense after New Hampshire’s first goal reverted back to its form from the first half, with its sole mistake coming on Sackie’s goal. The senior’s header was the only shot the Wildcats recorded between its first goal and the end of regulation.If 90 minutes weren’t enough, the Orange were forced to resist the Wildcats for two more 10-minute overtime periods. On its last legs after playing 110 minutes on Friday against Yale, SU sat back and absorbed UNH’s attack, showing little ambition to possess the ball further up the field.“I’m very proud of the way the guys hung in there at the end,” McIntyre said. “It would have been very easy to concede again and lose that game.”Just as it did in the first half, Syracuse’s defense stayed compact and organized, with Higgins, Norheim and substitute Michael Lantry directing from the backline. And unlike the end of regulation, the Orange were able to see out the final stages of the second overtime without conceding, escaping with a point. “We have to move on from this draw,” Raposo said. “They’re a ranked team, so a draw against them is not the worst thing. But we have to move on.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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