SU Soccer: Syracuse vs Wake Forest

Offensive outburst leads Syracuse men's soccer past Pittsburgh in ACC Tournament

SU tops Panthers, 4-0, to advance to conference quarterfinals

The Syracuse men’s soccer team advanced to the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament with a 4-0 win over the Pittsburgh Panthers on Tuesday night, delivering a dominate offensive performance and setting up a rematch with No. 6 Clemson.

The game reflected the contrast in seasons, as No. 7 Syracuse finished the regular season 10-3-3 overall and 3-2-3 in conference, just missing out on a first round bye. Pittsburgh finished last in the ACC regular season standings with no conference wins and a 2-12-3 overall record.

Photo: Jonathan Colon

Syracuse took control of the game early and dominated throughout. SU’s Chris Nanco scored in the 10th minute after Pittsburgh goalkeeper Jacob Rooth had a bad touch and failed to control the ball. Nanco pounced on the mistake and his touch allowed the ball to trickle into the net. The Orange doubled their lead in the 20th minute when Nanco cut inside from the left wing after a great cross and blasted a shot into the net, despite a deflection from a Pittsburgh defender. The two goals were his fifth and sixth of the season and ended a long goal drought.

“It was kind of frustrating, but I just wanted to keep my head up, keep focused, keep my head clear and just hope for the best,” Nanco said. “I knew that if I didn’t score goals it would come from other guys.”

Syracuse continued to relentlessly pressure the ball on Pittsburgh throughout the first half, forcing the Panthers center backs to play hurried long balls. SU head coach Ian McIntyre implored his team to pressure from the sidelines and his players followed his instructions, forcing the Panthers to play in their half most of the game, leading to numerous chances for the Orange. Syracuse hadn’t scored four goals in a game this season, and McIntyre was glad to see the explosive offensive performance.

“There’s goals in this team,” McIntyre said. “What that (first) goal typified was what Chris (Nanco) brings to our team. Yes goals, but he got it because of his work ethic and the commitment to close down. He’s probably scored some nicer goals, but for his confidence and the team’s, there probably are not going to be many bigger then that one.”

SU had 11 shots to Pittsburgh’s two in the first half and four offside calls, exemplifying the aggressive and attacking nature Coach McIntyre instilled in the team. After a long break due to a stadium light outage, the teams returned to the field for the second half.

Chris Nanco starred in the first half, but midfielder Jonathan Hagman took the spotlight in the second. Pittsburgh responded to a bad first half and created enough chances to disrupt Syracuse until Hagman scored in the 63rd and 70th minute, putting the game completely out of reach. Hagman’s first goal came from a blocked Nanco shot that fell to him, allowing him to shoot and score without anyone blocking him. Hagman’s 70th minute goal came after a Sergio Camargo shot hit the crossbar and fell to him, letting him easily tap it in.

“We have been struggling to score goals the last couple of games and it was good today to score four,” Hagman said.

Syracuse continued their dominating performance in the final twenty minutes and finished with 18 shots to Pittsburgh’s nine.

Pittsburgh’s loss ends its season, while Syracuse’s next game will be at Clemson in the ACC quarterfinals on November 6. Syracuse will look to avenge its 2015 NCAA tournament semifinals loss to Clemson. The regular season game between the two teams ended in a 0-0 draw.

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