Men’s Soccer Falls to Clemson on Senior Night
By James Groh
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Clemson clawed its way back to a 2-1 victory over Syracuse. Even though the Orange got on the board first, it wasn’t able to hold off the Tiger offense for a full 90 minutes.
The game’s deciding moment was Clemson’s second goal. Syracuse became deflated after that.
It all started with a failed clearance. Syracuse defender Hampus Bergdahl made a lazy attempt to win a 50/50 ball by jumping and trying to kick the ball with the outside of his foot. The ball went behind the Syracuse defense and bounced towards the SU goal. An already in stride Oliver Shannon ran onto the ball with Orange captain Mo Adams tight on his back. It was a foot race to the ball.
While Adams was able to gain some ground, it was too little too late. As soon as Adams tried to stop the play with a slide tackle at the top of the 18 yard box, Shannon fired a shot over the outstretched arms of Hendrik Hilpert and into the back of the net.
It’s a tough loss for the Orange as Syracuse seemed to be in control of the match.
“Very frustrating because I thought we had them from start to finish,” Adams said. “But I guess it wasn’t meant to be.”
Had it not been for a few careless errors, Adams said that Syracuse should have won that game.
“The difference between winning and losing is the individual mistakes and kind of the details,” he said.
Syracuse started the game as well as it could have. The Orange won a majority of the 50/50 balls and seemed to have a spring in its step. SU also did what it hasn’t been able to do most of the season: score first.
Just six minutes in, freshman standout Tajon Buchanan received a through ball in Clemson’s final third. He took the ball near the corner area, cut the ball back and delivered a cross to forward Johannes Pieles who was waiting at the backpost. Pieles volleyed the ball across the goal and into the net. It was his fifth of the season.
Clemson began to test Syracuse. The Tigers’ Chris Heijjer fired a shot from 30 yards out that Hilpert parried away. Once again it was Heijjer who got the next shot off for the Tigers. This time he hit it with his in-swinging foot. The shot lacked venom, and Hilpert made the easy save. The Tigers had a free kick from about 25 yards out, but weren’t able to capitalize on the effort.
The game was very physical. There were a combined 33 fouls committed by both teams. One of those fouls came in the 28th minute. A through ball over the top was suppose to find an oncoming Jonathan Hagman. However, he was taken down inside the box. Syracuse appealed for a penalty but wasn’t awarded one.
There were a few controversial calls and no-calls this game. The amount of fouls, or lack there-of, didn’t bother Syracuse coach Ian McIntyre.
“I think there a number of interesting decisions tonight – on both ways,” he said. “I don’t think it favored one team or the other. I just think there were a lot of errors tonight.”
Syracuse’s first half was much better than its second half. However, the Orange remained in the driver’s seat despite totaling six fewer shots than the Tigers.
Clemson’s breakthrough came in the 75 minute. Kirmarni Smith fired a shot across his body. Diego Campos, who was making a run towards goal, dove and deflected the ball into the net with his right foot.
Then five minutes later, Syracuse committed a bad error that led to the decisive goal for Clemson.
In a game full of despair, Syracuse’s Tajon Buchanan stood out among the rest.
“The most dynamic player on the pitch tonight, and they’ve got some wonderful players, but I thought for freshman Tajon Buchanan was outstanding,” McIntyre said. “If you came out to watch the game tonight, he was a fun guy to watch.”
Buchanan was involved in most of the offensive efforts for Syracuse. He contributed an assist on the Orange’s lone goal. Also, he showed off some nifty footwork on multiple occasions to get past Clemson defenders.
In the end, Syracuse players felt the sting of defeat more Saturday than for previous games. This Clemson match is akin to a derby. It’s the sixth meeting between these two schools in three years.
“There is so much history that you just know about if you are very close to the team,” Hilpert said. “There are some things you only hear when you are on the pitch. This game or rivalry is not over. It’s just not over.”
With Saturday’s loss on senior night, Syracuse (6-8-2, 0-6-1 ACC) has just one more chance to get its first ACC win during the regular season this year. That matchup will be against #2 Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons are last years’ national runner-up and are currently undefeated. That game will take place next Friday at Wake Forest.