Syracuse defeats Wake Forest 2-0 for 1st ACC win in nearly 2 years

first_img Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ One week ago, Syracuse’s seniors piled onto the team bus in Blacksburg, Virginia and had a meeting. They had just suffered a double-overtime loss against Virginia Tech and SU’s “leadership” decided that the team’s mentality had to change. They had to be tighter defensively, tougher physically and finish off high-quality chances. That thought process oozed from the leadership to the rest of the bus. The Orange’s win over Akron two days later was the “first positive step” for the team, freshman Ryan Raposo said. The team fed off each other on the following six hour drive to Syracuse all the way to Friday next to the next step: No. 1 Wake Forest.Then came the first goal, the red card, the video replay, another goal and the final minutes that seemed to move slower for head coach Ian McIntyre. In the end, Raposo clapped along with fans as they chanted “O-ver-rated” at the Demon Deacons. Orange goalie Hendrik Hilpert — who predicted a win earlier in the week — walked across the field smiling, his cheek bones raised high. Jonathan Hagman danced to Taylor Swift’s “Shake it off.” Syracuse (5-4-1, 1-3-0 Atlantic Coast) outplayed and outlasted the No. 1 team in the country, Wake Forest (11-1, 4-1) ,2-0, in SU Soccer Stadium. McIntyre called Wake Forest the best team in the ACC throughout the last three years. And after 721 days of searching for a conference win, it came against the most unlikely opponent.“This is one we will remember,” Hagman said. “We created chances, we took our chances and they had nothing.”Syracuse absorbed pressure in the game’s first five minutes. Wake Forest forwards pressed and the Orange couldn’t find it’s midfielders. Len Zeugner and Kamal Miller traded frantic passes in front of the penalty box. WFU’s Omir Fernandez juked Zeugner and had a shot at goal, but Sondre Norheim’s slide knocked the ball away, stopping the initial flurry.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textOnce Syracuse settled, it sparked chances. Its first offensive chance came off a Djimon Johnson interception in the midfield and ended in a low-cross from Norheim that was saved. Later in the half, following a string of tackles by Orange forwards, the mostly quiet crowd cheered slightly. Wake Forest defenders ripped passes to Syracuse jerseys. Raposo corralled the ball in the penalty box but his shot through a thicket of players dribbled towards Mundet. Raposo said after the game that the early chances reaffirmed the momentum that the Orange felt it had established back in Ohio. SU preserved the intensity with a four-man backline of Norheim, Zeugner, Miller and wing-back Simon Triantafillou. Defenders routinely shouted at midfielders to rotate back after turning the ball over. The Orange’s smaller forwards tracked back and prevented the visitors from playing down the wings. WFU’s chances it did generate were spoiled. Fernandez looked up and sighed in the first half after an errant touch rolled towards the SU sideline. Later, he found space on a breakaway in the middle of the field and tumbled to the ground after a Zeugner challenge.The first half finished scoreless with both sides trying to find a solution to two pesky defenses.“We knew Wake Forest they want to have the ball,” Hagman said. “We really went after them and made sure we always had pressure on them. It was man-to-man, 11-on-11 almost. That was the key for us.” Like it did in the first half, Wake Forest opened a frame with quality chances. An Aristotle Zarris found space on the left wing and rolled one towards Hilpert. Bruno Lapa, WFU’s leading scorer (26 points) dribbled to his right and ripped a shot curling away from Hilpert but the senior jutted a hand out while jumping, sending it over the crossbar.Individual tackles by Goldhar, Hugo Delhommelle and Triantafillou gave Syracuse a sustained possession to wrestle back momentum. Then WFU responded with a corner and its own set of chances.In the 65th minute, Raposo’s individual moment of brilliance shown through. Syracuse head coach Ian McIntyre said “transitional moments” would be the key. Raposo dribbled through three defenders down the wing, nutmegged a midfielder and sent a pass to Hilli Goldhar, a first-half substitute, tracking behind the Wake Forest defense. The crowd rose, and Goldhar knocked it over Mundet. The play design — using speed and a long pass to sneak past WFU’s backline — was the team’s gameplan, multiple players said. It worked, and SU led 1-0. Syracuse earned its first lead in an ACC game all season. And it celebrated as such. Goldhar raised his hands to the sky, before darting to the sideline for a blue and orange mosh. After the scrum, Miller ran down the sideline pumping up the crowd. Raposo grabbed a Gatorade bottle, chugged and spit in the air as he threw the bottle down.“Ryan’s been fantastic,” Hagman said. “He’s figured it out real quick to help us win.” Three minutes later, on Wake Forest’s side of the field, Tajon Buchanan and WFU’s Logan Gdula exchanged a word and a few shoves, prompting the referee to give a red card to SU’s leading point-scorer. The crowd objected, shouting at the official and booing Gdula whenever he touched the ball the rest of the game.The game’s final stretch saw a more energized Orange crowd and gluttony of whistles. Each team resorting to physicality as the clock ticked down. Wake Forest pressed when the clock bled to single digits. Syracuse retained its shape despite being down a man. Hilpert shouted directives, assigning defenders to forwards at certain moments. Hilpert has never lost to Wake Forest, allowing one goal in 220 minutes of soccer. The senior goalkeeper guaranteed an Orange victory. He said Wake Forest would count down the game’s final minutes.WFU managed shots. It’s thrived on second-half offense this season, outscoring opponents 26-3 in the frame. But whenever a Demon Deacon’s shot was launched, SU hurled bodies in front. With every thud of plastic hitting flesh, the crowd cheered.“When called upon, guys stood up,” McIntyre said. “… Second half, we did a little bit better.” This season, each Syracuse win has been followed by a loss. Every modicum of momentum wasted in the larger context of the season. After a season-opening win at Oregon State, the Orange conceded twice in the first half and the offense sputtered against Portland. After surviving a seven-goal match against Hofstra without Miller, SU allowed three set-piece goals and dropped a winnable game against Notre Dame. After dominating Cornell in a rain-soaked contest, Virginia Tech scored in a second-overtime period and halted Syracuse’s progress.“Our guys may start to believe a little bit more,” McIntyre said. “Part of the last week, two weeks, was me telling the guys that we’re good.” The Akron win last Monday “proved” to SU that it was a winning team, Hilpert said. Toppling the best team in the country would’ve ended the complacency. It would’ve distinguished the 2018 squad from last year’s team of missed shots and blown opportunities.In 84th minute Syracuse solidified its lead. John-Austin Ricks broke free down the Orange’s right wing and slid a ball past the keeper. The entire SU team nearly pushed him out of the stadium. Hilpert sprinted across the pitch, beaming as he joined his team. WFU players looked around aimlessly, slowly walking back to the center circle.Syracuse’s bench stood for the game’s final five minutes. McIntyre remained calm. He made defensive substitutions. Pockets of SU fans cheered. After the game, Hilpert walked to former-Orange midfielder Juuso Pasanen. They embraced. “I’m so happy, man.” Hilpert said. “I’m so happy.” Players high-fived, and trickled out of the stadium. The meeting on the bus has worked so far. As players walked out, they passed an ACC banner. For the first time in nearly two years, Syracuse won a conference game. center_img Published on October 5, 2018 at 9:16 pm Contact Nick: [email protected] | @nick_a_alvarezlast_img

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