Second-half surge not enough as Syracuse falls to No. 18 Wake Forest

The Orange dropped a 1-0 game with Wake Forest despite a late offensive push

A slow start doomed Syracuse on Thursday night in its ACC women’s soccer opener, dropping a tight 1-0 decision to No. 18 Wake Forest. The Orange fell to 5-3-1 (0-1-0) with the defeat, while he Demon Deacons improved to 8-1-1 (2-0-0).

Wake asserted itself early, creating sustained pressure on the Orange. The Syracuse defense bent but did not break, despite the visitors creating a number of chances to shoot from near the ‘Cuse penalty area.

That pressure eventually paid off for the Demon Deacons in the 31st minute when Vicky Krug sent a cross to Hannah Betfort, who settled the ball with her first touch before rifling a right-footed shot into the upper-left corner past Syracuse goalkeeper Courtney Brosnan.

Wake stayed in the driver’s seat for the rest of the half, but at halftime the score remained 1-0.

Syracuse head coach Phil Wheddon admitted that Wake Forest was the better team in the opening period.

“The first half just belonged to them,” Wheddon said. “They outmuscled us a little bit in the first half, they were allowed to play the way they wanted to play, and I don’t think we affected them enough.”

The Demon Deacons outshot the Orange 10-1 in the period, forcing Brosnan to make six saves before the break.

The second half saw the game even out, with both teams producing scoring opportunities. In the 53rd minute, Syracuse’s Shannon Aviza got her head on a corner kick and sent a sharp header off the cross bar and out of play. Wake responded with a number of attacks down the left side, producing two good saves by Brosnan in the space of five minutes.

But it was the Orange that came on hardest in the last 15 minutes. Eva Gordon, playing in her first game back after not seeing the field for two weeks due to injury, started the momentum. Her 50-yard dribble in the 78th minute resulted in a shot from 25 yards, which was saved by Wake’s Lindsay Preston.

“It took us too long to get our rhythm,” Gordon said. “We finally found it in the 15 to 20 minutes at the end of the game.”

Alana O’Neill continued the pressure, swinging in a dangerous cross in the 82th minute. She then pounced on the resulting corner kick, only to have her close-range effort blocked. O’Neill also created the final opportunity of the game, beating Krug with pace down the right flank, and finding Kate Hostage at the near post. However, Preston was again up to the challenge, charging out and blocking the freshman forward’s attempt and preserving the win for Wake Forest.

After the game, Gordon talked about the difficulty of getting forward against the 18th-ranked Demon Deacons.

“There were things that worked in nonconference play that aren’t going to work in ACC play,” Gordon said. “There are adjustments that we are going to have to make in the team, so I can get forward more and we can work that offense out.”

Despite the result, Wheddon remained positive about the team’s performance.

“The second half I thought was more ours,” he said. “Apart from the goal, I don’t think there was any thing that really troubled Courtney [Brosnan]. I’m really proud of the team and how they responded in the second half. We just know now that we can’t take 15 to 20 minutes to get into a game.”

The Orange return to action on Sunday, hosting 19th ranked Clemson at 1:00 p.m.

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