Defensive mishaps cost SU in 2-1 loss to No. 7 Clemson

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on October 22, 2017 at 12:27 am Contact Nick: | @nick_a_alvarez When SU Soccer Stadium’s public-address announcer read the final score — Clemson 2, Syracuse 1 — a Tiger forward approached Syracuse goalie Hendrik Hilpert and extended his hand for a shake. Hilpert didn’t acknowledge him.When the junior crossed the sideline, he threw his gloves haphazardly against the metal Syracuse University bench. His blue eyes winced and his face contorted, showing pain for a split second before returning to his hard, blank face. The fight was over, his “personal” mission to beat Clemson unfulfilled.“In the second half,” Hilpert said, “it came down to the battle. In the first half we were better, in the second half we gave up two goals. The only thing that matters is the result. They got the result, we didn’t.”Despite six saves and a scoreless first half, Syracuse (6-8-2, 0-6-1 Atlantic Coast) fell to No. 7 Clemson (11-3, 4-3 ACC) for its sixth consecutive home loss. After leading for 74 minutes, the Orange conceded twice in a five-minute span in the second frame, clinching its first sub-.500 season since 2011, head coach Ian McIntyre’s second year at SU.To reinforce a defense that hasn’t clicked since the departure of Miles Robinson to the MLS SuperDraft, SU has deployed a combination of defenders around anchor Kamal Miller. On Saturday night, the Orange turned to freshman Sondre Norheim and sophomore Hampus Bergdahl, who made just his fourth appearance of the year. For more than three-quarters of the game, it looked like the trio and Hilpert would stifle a Tigers offense that entered the game as the sixth-best scoring offense in the nation. Yet, as they have all season, a few minor mistakes cost the Orange.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“We left it all out there tonight,” McIntyre said. “Unfortunately, we were a little short.”SU faced Akron, another top-ranked offense, on Oct. 3 and aggressively pressured the Zips to limit chances. That strategy worked for about 33 minutes in an eventual 1-0 loss. Against the Tigers, it resulted in a fast-paced game that saw the Orange take an early one-goal lead thanks to a Johannes Pieles tap in. The Tiger forwards couldn’t cross the midfield line without bumping into a blue-and-orange checkered jersey.In the 40th minute, Clemson’s Alex Hemmingsen broke through the SU ranks and found himself 1-on-1 with Hilpert. SU’s last line of defense rushed forward and waved his left forearm in front of the ball while falling down. The save preserved the lead and SU built momentum, but the Orange wouldn’t find a second goal.The Orange came out in the second half with the same strategy as the first, said midfielder Jan Breitenmoser. For a while, that plan worked. Early in the half, Miller battled with CU’s Saul Chinchilla near Syracuse’s net and Miller muscled the midfielder to the ground and sent him crashing into a plastic wall.Miller declined an interview through a spokesperson after the game.Eventually, Clemson started to settle the ball down and gain possession in SU’s defensive third. A stagnant Orange offense allowed the Tigers to push more men forward. Finally, the defense that bent all night finally broke in the 75th minute when Diego Campos, Clemson’s leading scorer, slid a shot past Hilpert to tie the game at one. In the subsequent four minutes, SU couldn’t maintain possession and attempted to clear the ball at midfield before Hemmingsen got hold of the ball and had a breakaway chance with Hilpert.“They are one of the top programs in the country and we had them on the ropes,” McIntyre said. “You knew they were going to come… When we needed to put our bodies on the line.”The situation was familiar for Hilpert. Two years ago, in between the same posts at SU Soccer Stadium, the then-freshman faced a Tigers breakaway in a tie game and couldn’t stop Kyle Murphy from scoring the game-winner. On Saturday, history repeated itself as Hemmingsen charged towards Hilpert tucked the ball just past his left ear. Hilpert later called it the one spot he couldn’t save.After the game, when 1,672 fans in attendance had cleared the stands, a few SU players were left to discuss a loss that felt all too familiar. Last year, SU posted nine clean sheets in 20 games, this season it has only recorded one. Hilpert stumbled over his words and starred off into the distance past SU Soccer Stadium’s gate and into the parking lot.Hilpert had thought about the Clemson game all through the offseason and he longed for a win. When he walked out of the stadium’s player entrance, he was still waiting. Commentslast_img

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