SU Soccer: Syracuse vs Wake Forest

Syracuse men's soccer ends regular season with draw against Wake Forest

Despite playing a man down, Orange tie Demon Deacons 1-1 on senior night at SU Soccer Stadium

The No. 6 Syracuse Orange men’s soccer team played to a 1-1 draw with the No. 2 Wake Forest Demon Deacons on Friday night, its last regular season game before the start of the ACC tournament next week.

The game abruptly changed in the sixth minute, when Syracuse defender Miles Robinson was shown a red card for elbowing an opponent off the ball while defending a corner, creating a massive disadvantage for Syracuse. Robinson left the field in disbelief, trying to explain what happened to both the referee and the coaching staff. The red card set the tone for the rest of the game, with each team receiving three yellow cards.

Photo: Jonathan Colon

The loss of Robinson, Syracuse’s leading scorer, was felt throughout the game. After the red card, the team switched to a more compact defense, with Kamal Miller moving to the center to lead communication with his teammates.

“We needed someone to step up and guide the team,” Miller said. “Just let everybody know it will be okay, no matter what. We knew we had them. We just had to push and keep composure.”

Wake Forest had dominated the game in the 15 minutes following the red card and took a 1-0 advantage after wearing down Syracuse. Wake Forest’s Jon Bakero scored to give the Demon Deacons the lead in the games 23rd minute.

The Demon Deacons had an extra goal and man at this point, enough to make many teams fold. But, SU head coach Ian McIntyre still had faith in what his team could do.

“A softer, less resilient group would have had enough opportunities to quit tonight,” McIntyre said. “We did not do that, we hung in there and we made things difficult.”

Syracuse responded later in the first half through a goal by Miller in the 35th minute. The ball bounced around in front of the goal before falling to Miller, allowing him to quickly shoot and score, tying the game.

Both teams became locked in a defensive battle during the second half and in both overtime periods. With Syracuse playing with 10 men, Wake Forest dominated possession and created more chances throughout the game. The Demon Deacons outshot Syracuse, 21-6, had seven more corner kicks and forced Syracuse keeper Hendrik Hilpert to make six saves to Wake Forest’s one. Despite the statistical advantages, Syracuse fought back and did just enough to preserve the tie.

Syracuse now turns its attention to the ACC tournament and qualification for the NCAA tournament, something that was not a given a few years ago. Coach McIntyre credits the programs change in mentality to the seven seniors who were honored on senior night tonight.

“We have had some dark days before this group got together. They have been a major part in changing the feel about our program,” McIntyre said. “We have come a long way.”

The current senior class not only shaped the culture of the program, but made Syracuse soccer history as well. They have won the ACC tournament title, been ranked number one in the nation for the first time and reached the NCAA tournament semifinals last year, the farthest the program has ever gone.

Syracuse’s final regular season record was 10-3-3 and the Orange will play in the first round of the ACC tournament on Wednesday. Wake Forest ends the season 12-2-3 and receives a first round bye. The Demon Deacons will start play in the ACC tournament quarterfinals.

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