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John Franks drove in front of the rest of the Georgetown players. He found a hole in the Syracuse defense, allowing Dante Polvara to pass up as he neared the top of the box. Goalkeeper Russell Shealy stood at the top near his line, but fell to his right as a slow, off-balanced shot from Franks trickled past him. All the redshirt junior could do was watch from his crouched possession laying on the grass as the ball quietly found the back of the net.
Fans and head coach Ian McIntyre agreed that the play should be called off. They beckoned for an official to call offsides, some raising their hands in the air to signal for the call. For a moment, it looked like they may have their wish granted. As the Hoyas celebrated their recent goal in the corner near the grey brick wall at SU Soccer Stadium, a referee came to break up the celebration and return players to midfield. But the call remained, and play continued.
The slow speed the ball entering the net served as a grueling reminder for McIntyre of his team’s fragile approach to beating Georgetown. In Syracuse’s (2-1) 1-0 loss to Georgetown (3-0), the Orange targeted Deandre Kerr, who started against the Hoyas after coming off the bench against Penn State. Kerr suffered a lower body injury and was limited in practice this week.
“He’s a mismatch for a lot of defenders, especially when he gets going,” McIntyre said. “When he gets isolated 1-v-1, he can really be a handful.”
Syracuse entered Friday evening off a shutout loss to Penn State. Prior to their game against the Nittany Lions, McIntyre noted that he wanted to prepare the team for the “rigors” of ACC competition after they went defeated in 2020.
With multiple players training professionally in Germany and playing for NYCFC, Georgetown provided just that. One of those players is Will Sands. Sands leapt off his feet near midfield with just under 20 minutes remaining in the first half. Syracuse had just spoiled a one-on-one attempt from Georgetown and was trying to clear it back to Amferny Sinclair. Sands wanted to keep possession in the Hoyas’ hands, but he aimed a few inches below the ball and connected with the back of Sinclair’s head. He fell to the ground, grabbing at the area above his right eye. Once he came to his feet, he left the field.
But in the second period Deandre Kerr collected a loose ball from Noah Singlemann. He had just beat out two defenders, but needed Kerr’s help to continue play. Kerr then broke left toward the net with only one defender between him and the goalkeeper. The crescendoing cheers of the fans climaxed when he fired a shot high and wide off the inside of his left foot.
It was indicative of Friday night’s strategy for Syracuse: get the ball from the No. 2 team in the country, find Kerr, and look for the sophomore to create opportunities.
In the first half, the 12-year head coach watched a microcosm of Friday night’s loss. Kerr collected the ball on the far wing and tried to run past his defender. Once he successfully made it down to the Georgetown box, he looked to his right for someone to pass in to. All he saw, however, was a sea of gray jerseys. The Syracuse midfield hadn’t successfully transitioned to help Kerr.
“Obviously Georgetown is great down the wings, but I think we matched up with them well,” Kerr said.
Buster Sjoberg rifled the ball over the Georgetown defenders, successfully clearing it down to Deandre Kerr. The forward found himself facing just one Hoya defender, whom he quickly dribbled around. Giannis Nikopolidis, the Georgetown goalkeeper, bled out from his line, and broke toward Kerr once he realized he was alone in front of the net. Syracuse fans screamed for a hand ball when Nikopolidis gathered the ball, but none was called.
Kerr’s standout freshman season landed him on the ACC All-Freshman team. In a 2-2 tie against Louisville, he became the first SU player to score multiple goals in a game since 2016. Despite the success early in his collegiate career, McIntyre believes he might have placed too much pressure on the forward, and said that he hoped the staff surrounded Kerr with talent to accompany him.
“I hope that we’ve surrounded him with a support cast that can help him, and can take off some of that burden from him,” McIntyre said.
Shortly after Deandre Kerr and Colin Biros subbed out, Julius Rauch had an opportunity to score Syracuse’s first goal of the evening. He gathered a pass mere feet away from the front of the net. However, Georgetown’s John Franks wedged his foot between the ground and the shot attempt. His move caused the ball to fly over the crossbar and onto the grassy ledge behind Georgetown’s goal.
As the final second ticked off the scoreboard, Syracuse had possession but, once again, found themselves unsuccessfully attempting to create an opportunity on the near side wing. A scrum ensued in the far corner of the field, but any hopes of a goal from SU expired with the clock.
“We were very balanced on the wings, and I think we deserved to win,” Kerr said.
The post Despite DeAndre Kerr returning to lineup, Syracuse falls 1-0 to No. 2 Georgetown appeared first on The Daily Orange.