Defensive Miscues Hand No. 7 Syracuse Men’s Soccer 5-3 Loss at No. 21 Duke
By Gabe Perrin | @gabe_perrin
DURHAM, N.C. – No.7 Syracuse traveled to Koskinen Stadium to face No. 21 Duke with no road or ranked wins to its name. Both of those remain unchanged after Friday night’s match, as the Orange fell 5-3 to a Blue Devils squad led by one of the top offenses in the nation.
Syracuse struck a familiar chord with a goal in the fourth minute off of the head of Nicholas Kaloukian. The Michigan transfer came flying into the box as the corner kick came through to put the Orange up early. For the next 15 or so minutes, action on the pitch was scoreless as the two ranked ACC squads traded possessions on opposite ends of the turf.
The scoreboard displayed just that one goal until the 21st minute, when Syracuse Goalkeeper Jason Smith was dealt a yellow card after diving into the legs of Duke’s Bull Jorgensen while attempting a play on the ball. Senior Nick Pariano buried the penalty kick into the back of the net, setting the contest even at 1-1.
Smith’s next big mistake came just 14 minutes later, when an attempted pass by the Utah Valley transfer was blocked by Duke’s leading scorer Forster Ajago, who had no issue stuffing the ball into the empty net. The Blue Devils’ barrage increased in intensity in the 41st minute when Ulfur Bjorsson tipped a header directly past a motionless Smith to give Duke a 3-1 lead at the half.
The Orange offense came out of the break strong, as Gabriel Mikina sent a header of his own soaring into the top part of the net off of a deflection. However, the one goal deficit didn’t stick around for long, as Pariano fooled Smith on a set piece for his second score of the evening.
Nate Edwards notched a third goal for the Orange in the 75th minute, but the nail was quickly put in the coffin as Jason Smith gave the ball away again for a Ruben Mesalles score and a 5-3 Duke victory.
To say Friday’s match was physical would be an understatement. The two squads combined for 31 fouls, six yellow cards, and a red card assessed to Syracuse Defender Olu Oyegunle in the 73rd minute.
The loss drops the No. 7 Orange to 4-2-3 on the season and 1-1 in conference play. As of now, all four of SU’s wins have come at home against unranked teams. This is the Orange’s second loss in 10 days after going unbeaten in the previous 10 months.
Syracuse returns home on Tuesday to take on Colgate (3-6, 1-2 Patriot League). The Orange have taken the last 8 matchups with the Raiders, including a 2-0 win last year on the road.