Syracuse loses in Sweet 16 to UNC 1-0
By Christian De Guzman
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — At the center of Murphy Field, Miles Robinson sat with his shirt over his head.
Hendrik Hilpert also sat down in front of his goal, wiping tears away from his eyes.
Shortly afterwards, Hilpert, Coach Ian McIntyre, Liam Callahan, and Oyvind Alseth walked into the post-game press conference with clear dejection. Then, McIntyre started off the press conference in a way only he could.
“I’m guessing by the looks on your faces, we’re the team that loss,” said the SU head coach in a light manner.
Syracuse’s 2016 season came to a close on Sunday as the North Carolina Tar Heels defeated the Orange 1-0. The game was played at Murphy Field in Onondaga Community College due to unplayable field conditions at the SU Soccer Stadium.
The lone goal of the match came in the 32nd minute. Tucker Hume picked up a ball in midfield and laid it off to Cam Lindley. Off the ball, Jeremy Kelly saw John Austin-Ricks out of position and the UNC midfielder made a run towards the penalty box. Lindley spotted Kelly’s run and hit a through ball to lead Kelly towards the left side of the pitch.
Kelly then cut inside, dodged a sliding tackle from Louis Cross, and slotted a shot into the bottom left corner of SU’s net to give the Tar Heels the 1-0 lead it would hold until the end of the match.
“That goal gave them something to hang on to,” said Coach McIntyre. “They did a very good job of limiting our opportunities.”
Syracuse only managed 1 shot on target against UNC goalie James Pyle, who has been fantastic the entire season.
Coach McIntyre also did not start the game with Chris Nanco or Liam Callahan. Both of the seniors were dealing with injuries and were a game-time decision. As such, Syracuse played a 4-4-2 formation instead of its normal 3-5-2.
“Part of the decision was the strength that UNC has with their three guys up front and the athleticism they have,” said Coach McIntyre. “I thought it would nullify some of what UNC brings to the table.”
However, UNC was able to find many gaps in the SU defense and find excellent chances at the Orange goal. Hilpert had 8 saves on the game against 10 UNC shots, 9 of them on goal. The Tar Heels seemed to have an easy time getting into the attacking third of the pitch.
“The battle is the first entry ball,” said UNC Head Coach Carlos Somoano. “[Syracuse] comes off very hard off the back line. The backs were stepping up so hard – they were leaving holes in the back.”
With the loss, the 2016 season of the SU Men’s Soccer team comes to a close. Now SU will have to drastically rebuild, as 7 seniors graduate in May. 6 of them – Ovyind Alseth, Liam Callahan, Louis Cross, Sergio Camargo, Chris Nanco, and Kenny Lassiter – played significant minutes for Ian McIntyre’s squad this season.
Syracuse certainly will look different next year, but 2 appearances in the Sweet 16 and a Final Four appearance is something this year’s senior class can hold in high regard.
Now it’s on to next year for Syracuse as they look to once and for all take the College Cup.