Men’s Soccer Takes Down No.1 Wake Forest
By Luke McGrath
CitrusTV Men’s Soccer Reporter
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Friday night, the SU Men’s Soccer team (5-4-1, 1-3 Atlantic Coast) did something 11 previous teams failed to do, that’s take down No. 1 Wake Forest (11-1, 4-1 Atlantic Coast), putting an end to the Demon Deacon’s perfect season.
The 2-0 upset was Syracuse’s first win in ACC play since the 2016 campaign and just the second clean sheet of the season. The shutout came against a Wake Forest team that entered the game as the highest scoring team in the country with 34 goals in the first 11 matches.
Head Coach Ian McIntyre was thrilled with the way his defense stepped up.
“To try to keep tabs on two of the most dangerous players in our league was exceptional,” said McIntyre. “But it wasn’t just the individual defending, it was the collective defending, when someone was beaten, it was getting that second body across.”
The Orange allowed just eight shots to a Demon Deacons squad that had been averaging over 14 per game, five of the shots were on target. Freshman midfielder Hilli Goldhar, who scored the game winner, was quick to praise the team’s defensive efforts.
“All the goals we’ve conceded, or at least most of them have been very correctable mistakes,” Goldhar said. “Our defense has been so rock solid, our back line … unbelievable, a bunch of beasts back there, so finally we’re correcting the correctable and that’s been huge for us.”
While shutting down the highest scoring offense in the country is impressive in its own right, Syracuse did it a man down for the final 22 minutes of the game after Tajon Buchanan picked up a red card on a slide tackle many believed was not flagrant.
Either way the SU defense persevered. Freshman midfielder Ryan Raposo said it was extra physicality that got the SU defense over the hump.
“The mentality definitely changed, I mean we’re all putting our bodies on the line,” Raposo said. “There’s 20 minutes left and I’m huffing and puffing and in my head I’m thinking you know, ‘you gotta push through.’ It doesn’t matter what it takes, you gotta get over that finish line.”
Coach McIntyre agrees.
“We talked beforehand about standing up defensively and we certainly needed to the whole game, but certainly that last 25 minutes when you’re down a man,” McIntyre said. “I’m proud of the guys.”
Offensively SU got going in the 65th minute when Raposo played a through ball to Goldhar that gave him the opportunity to finesse a shot over the Wake Forest goalkeeper’s head.
When the lead was secured the Wake Forest attack picked up significantly but SU was able to get a breakaway on the counter attack and John-Austin Ricks capitalized sliding his shot into the bottom right of the net in the 84th minute to give the Orange the 2-0 lead.
While Friday night’s result is the highlight of the season to date, Raposo said the team will sill be working hard to get prepared for Ohio State.
“Maybe tonight we could celebrate in the locker room, you know be happy for each other, but tomorrow morning, 9:30 [a.m.], we’re back to work,” Raposo said.
That work will be in preparation for a struggling Buckeyes team (1-8-2, 0-3-1 Big 10). Kickoff is set for Monday at 7 p.m. at the SU Soccer Stadium.
@L_McGrath14 | Lumcgrat@syr.edu