Syracuse misery continues versus Clemson

Two goals in the final 15 minutes continue Syracuse's worst ACC run in history.

Syracuse men’s soccer team lost 2-1 in disappointing fashion against a physical Clemson Tigers. In their final home game of the season, a frigid SU soccer stadium provided the battleground for a hard fought defeat that had 33 combined fouls throughout.

The game started well for Syracuse. Some early possession and a tighter midfield meant they exerted a little more control than usual. Midfielders Mo Adams and Hugo Delhommelle ensured that Clemson would have a difficult time breaking down the defense.

“I think we won the midfield battle,” Adams said.

The control was rewarded with an early goal. Defender Hampus Bergdahl launched a quick counter after picking up the ball in midfield. Forward Tajon Buchanan burst into the left channel and the freshman tricked his way into some space before launching a curling ball into the box. The ball sailed over the Clemson defense to the back post where an unmarked Johannes Pieles was able to finish across the Clemson goalkeeper.

The crowd whipped into a frenzy but the game continued to offer moments for complaint. Both teams threw bodies around and chased every ball with ferocity. 

This rivalry is a fierce one after multiple games in the last two years. Coach Ian McIntyre and his players knew there was more than three points involved in this one.

“That’s our sixth time we’ve played against them in three years,” McIntyre said. “And it may not be the last time this year.”

Defending became Syracuse’s priority after the goal. The 3-5-2 shape became more compact as Clemson tried to gain a foothold in the game. The Orange did a good job of containing Clemson wide men Diego Campos and Saul Chinchilla throughout the first half. Syracuse wing-backs Simon Triantafillou and Jan Breitenmoser worked relentlessly to track back with their midfielders.

“We had a game plan,” Breitenmoser said. “We defended really well. All the guys put in an effort.”

Syracuse could have added more to their tally if some refereeing decisions had gone their way. Twice in the first half, midfielder Jonathan Hagman found himself brought down in the box. Twice the referee waved the claims away.

“There was a number of interesting decisions tonight,” McIntyre said. “There was a lot of errors tonight.”

The physicality continued into the second half. Four yellow cards were given in the second half, two to each team.

As the half wore on, Clemson started to see more of the ball in the attacking third. Syracuse started to sit deeper in an attempt to protect the lead they had. As the game crept towards the final quarter, there was a sense that the Orange were going to be able to pull off the upset, holding Clemson to only one shot in the second half up to that point.

Clemson then found their opening. In the 75th minute, Diego Campos drifted inside and crafted some space in front of the box. Forward Kimarni Smith found himself behind the Orange defense and Campos played him in. Smith then deftly works back to find a shooting angle and slotted the ball round Syracuse goalkeeper Hendrik Hilpert. 1-1.

The crowd deflate but was still optimistic given how Syracuse had played. It didn’t take much longer for the optimism to fade.

Five minutes after the first Clemson goal, they found another. This time a throw-in on Breitenmoser’s right flank causes confusion with Syracuse playing a high line. Clemson midfielder Oliver Shannon grabs the loose ball with 20 yards and no players between him and the goal. Mo Adams tried to close him down but Shannon had too much room and drilled the ball past a helpless Hilpert. 

“We got caught,” Breitenmoser said. “It’s really unlucky.”

For the remainder of the game, Syracuse struggled to create any meaningful opportunities while Clemson drained the clock whenever they had possession. The loss keeps Syracuse winless but Coach McIntyre was happy with the desire they showed this evening against their rivals.

“We certainly left it all out there tonight,” McIntyre said.

Syracuse play their final game against No. 2 Wake Forest next Friday at 7pm.

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