Cavaliers smother Orange in 2-0 defeat

Syracuse could not contain Virginia and were outplayed across the board.

Syracuse men's soccer entered Saturday night’s game against Virginia trying to continue its three-game winning streak and improve in the conference standings. But Virginia (4-3-1) outplayed Syracuse (6-3) from start to finish a 2-0 loss to the Cavaliers.

Virginia set the tempo quickly in the match-up, and took control of the first half by showing aggressiveness against the Orange attack. Freshman Jordan Allen and Riggs Lennon provided the offensive spark for the Cavaliers.

Photo: Ziniu Chen
Alex Bono blocks a long pass by Virginia Cavaliers.

“They came out pressing us a lot and kept moving the ball around,” freshman forward Chris Nanco said. “I think we needed to get it after more and become more efficient.”

With the loss, the Orange have now dropped its third game of the season, all of them in conference play. A recent theme for the struggles has been adjusting to the speed of the game, something Nanco said a focus of this team in practice.

“I think we just came in playing a little bit slow,” he said. “As time goes on, we’ll pick up the speed and play the way we know how to play.”

Virginia was also physical on offense and on the defense, allowing the Cavaliers to take advantage of the undersized Orange. Syracuse only managed two shots on goal the entire game, a testament to the stifling defense that Virginia provided all 80 minutes.

“We needed to be more supportive to our players individually,” Nanco said.  “We’re not one of the biggest teams so we look to pass the ball around to different players.”

Syracuse was constantly exploited on Saturday night, junior defensemen Jordan Murrell said. That, not the speed of the game, was the biggest issue in the loss, Murrell said.

“We just have to get on top of them quicker. Don’t concede early goals,” he said. “We need to be stronger at the back-end and eliminate mistakes. We need to defend from the front and all the way through the goal keeper.”

Head coach Ian McIntyre noted that Syracuse did not put its most complete game forward in a front of a SU Soccer Stadium record of 1,803 fans.

“The better team won tonight,” he said. “When you give a quality team like Virginia a couple of sloppy goals, and then it was an uphill battle.

Yet, the disappointing loss in conference does not discourage the young squad. Instead, it’s another less learned for a group that has the aspirations of making Syracuse soccer a national program.

“We’re trying to not just build a special team, but a special program,” McIntyre said. “We have a soccer-savvy community, and we’re going to work hard to make them proud of us.”

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