Women’s Soccer Drops ACC Opener to Wake Forest 1-0
By Luke McGrath
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – The originally scheduled start to ACC play came a little later than expected, when the Orange fell to Wake Forest 1-0 Thursday night.
SU was originally scheduled to play its first ACC contest last Friday against the University of Miami until Hurricane Irma postponed the matchup.
Although well rested, the time off didn’t prepare SU’s freshmen for the fast-paced level that comes with playing in the ACC.
Head coach Phil Wheddon said the first ACC matchup was a big challenge for his young squad, and a good experience to learn from.
“We started four freshmen and it was their first experience in the ACC, baptism by fire and you know we were playing against one of the top 20 teams in the country,” Wheddon said. “They’re a top 20 team for a reason, they’re very effective at what they do.”
The lack of experience showed in the first half as SU was outshot by the Demon Deacons ten to one, but Coach Wheddon said he’s happy with how his freshman regrouped and gave SU a chance to get back in the game.
“Having said that, I’m really proud of the way they played,” he said. “They took some time to adjust, but I thought they did very very well.
Senior defender Jessica Vigna is the center back for the Orange, and saw up close how the young SU squad made great strides throughout the game.
“I know they were pretty nervous, but I think all in all they did pretty well for their first start and they’ll just get better from here,” Vigna said.
But Vigna acknowledged that the freshman are not the only ones to blame. She said poor marking in the box by her allowed the Demon Deacons’ freshman forward Hannah Betfort to score in the 31st minute.
In the second half the Orange pulled a 180 and dominated the pace of play, applying pressure consistently and earning three corner kicks. It also drew seven fouls and rattled off five shots.
SU was able to apply all this pressure despite senior forward Alex Lamontagne going down in the second half. Sophomore forward Sydney Brackett was also not at 100%, and was only able to provide limited minutes off the bench.
To make matters worse, SU midfielder Georgia Allen was limited against Wake Forest because she just returned from Europe after spending time with her national club.
Despite all the factors at play going against his squad, Coach Wheddon said his team still needs to capitalize when given the chance to score.
“You get fewer opportunities in the ACC to get shots off, so you have to make them count,” Wheddon said. “But I feel like we can play with any team in the country.”
The Orange will get another chance to take on one of the best teams in the country, hosting nationally ranked Clemson squad Sunday at 1 p.m. Coach Wheddon acknowledged that there is one thing his team can’t do if it wants to collect its first ACC win of the season.
“We just know now that we can’t take 15 to 20 minutes to get into a game, we’ve got to start fast,” Wheddon said.