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Sunday, Oct 23, 2016 at 9:56 pm

Syracuse’s ACC Tournament Hopes Fall with Loss to #18 North Carolina

By Nick Petraccione

In its final home game of the season, Syracuse women’s soccer fall to #18 North Carolina 3-1. The loss ends any hope for the Orange (8-7-3, 1-6-2 ACC) to make an appearance in the ACC tournament.

“We knew the result today would make or break it,” said Syracuse head coach Phil Wheddon.

His team now sits in second-to-last place in the conference only ahead of Pittsburgh (1-8-0).

Syracuse started the year out strong with a 7-1-1 record in non-conference play, the best start by the program since 1992. But the ACC, arguably the best-conference in women’s college soccer, was too much for them to handle.

Although there is still one game left in the season for ‘Cuse, they are excited for what next year will bring.

“We have great players, we’ll have more depth next year than we’ve ever had before,”said Wheddon. “So the future of the program looks very very bright.”

Wheddon says the 2017 recruiting class is top-20 in the nation and features five three-star prospects.

As for the seniors, there won’t be a next year. The Orange is graduating five players after this season, most notably starters Maddie Iozzi (defense) and Stephanie Skilton (forward).

Skilton scored the lone goal for the Orange in its loss, but it came with a silver lining: her dad flew all the way from New Zealand to see her play on her senior day.

The goal was Skilton’s 27th of her career, which places her in a tie for second with Candy Reich (1996-1999) in Syracuse’s all-time leading goal scorer list.

Skilton has had a great career with the Orange and Wheddon hopes she keeps playing past college.

“She does all the things a professional player does and I hope she goes on to play at the professional level because she deserves it,” said Wheddon.

After the game was finished, the players went to their locker rooms and the fans went to their cars. The cleanup crew filed in, taking down the flags and picking up garbage in the bleachers. After they left, only one person remained in the stadium. It was Phil Wheddon.

He sat for a while on the Syracuse bench looking down at his phone, possibly summarizing the season his team had on the field in front of him. Maybe he was contemplating what would take place on the very same field next year. Then he stood up and slowly walked toward the stadium gates giving one final look at the pitch before disappearing out of view.

Although the season may be done for Wheddon and company at SU Soccer Stadium, the Orange still have one more game to play. On Thursday, SU travels Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts for their final game of the year against Boston College at 7 PM.