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Saturday, Oct 01, 2016 at 12:37 am

Defense and Wet Conditions Contribute to 0-0 Draw Between SU and UNC

By Christian De Guzman

SYRACUSE, NY – Chris Nanco drove his right foot through the ball, and for a split second, every person in the SU Soccer Stadium held their breath.

The ball clanged off the crossbar, and a loud groan came from fans around the pitch.

That shot in the 81st minute by Nanco would be the best chance that #3 Syracuse or #4 North Carolina had at breaking the deadlock. Even after 110 minutes of soccer, neither team could crack the defense as the match ended in a 0-0 draw.

Rain played an immediate factor in the match. Early on, players from both teams slipped on the slick surface, and first touches were redirected farther than intended.

“I think both teams had to adjust a little bit,” said Coach Ian McIntyre.

Despite the conditions, Syracuse was able to play the way it normally does. The Orange controlled most of the possession and had the better offensive opportunities throughout the match. After being dominated in the first half by both Boston College and Notre Dame, it was a good sign to see that the offense of Syracuse stepped up to control the temp of the match from the opening whistle.

The true star of the game was the defense of both teams. Hendrik Hilpert recorded two saves en route to his sixth clean sheet of the season. UNC’s James Pyle was equally, if not more impressive than Hilpert. His five saves on SU’s 13 shots arguably kept the Tar Heels in the game.

“These games are the reason you play soccer,” said Hilpert. “Those games, you don’t have off. Whether you’re a goalie, or the defense, or any person.”

Friday’s draw gives SU seven points from four games in conference play. Three of those four games have come against ranked opposition. Surely, SU will look to gain more ground in conference, as seeding is so important for the ACC Championship, but a draw against a tough UNC team is something that Coach McIntyre will take, especially on a night like Friday.

“That’s an elite UNC team,” said McIntyre. “We’ll look back at the end of the season and say this was a good point.”

But even he knows there were still opportunities to get more from Friday’s game.

“We had a couple better chances to steal something tonight.”