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In the 18th minute of the opening half, midfielder Amferny Sinclair tried to pass out of Syracuse’s side of the field. But he couldn’t get the ball outside of Louisville’s Macoumba Ba, who stood waiting to intercept the service pass at the top of the box. As he broke for the box, two Orange defenders collided with Ba, who fell and appeared to injure his right leg.
That caused the referee to motion for a penalty kick, the first of the night for Louisville’s Pedro Fonseca. The forward put his head down and readied himself, taking a large breath before adjusting his right sock.
Fonseca shot left, not trying to deceive Syracuse goalie Lucas Daunhauer, who also dove to the left. Unfortunately for the graduate goalkeeper, his outstretched, 6-foot-2 frame wasn’t enough to bat the ball away. It buried in the left corner of the net to put Louisville up 1-0. That started a stretch of 10 minutes in the middle of the first half that saw four penalty kicks.
According to Syracuse head coach Ian McIntyre, Daunhauer’s first real test came last Friday against Virginia. But the former DII goalkeeper held his own and only allowed one goal against a seven-time ACC champion in front of one of the largest crowds he’d ever seen. He couldn’t repeat that performance against Louisville (4-2 2-0 ACC), however, as Syracuse (4-3, 1-1 Atlantic Coast) came up short, losing 5-4.
“(Daunhauer), he’s been thrown in the deep end the last couple of weeks,” McIntyre said.
Daunhauer first started in net against Niagara, after Russell Shealy rolled his ankle 20 minutes into the game. But Daunhauer was “locked in” throughout his time in goal, shutting out the Cavaliers. After the shutout, McIntyre gave credit to Daunhauer, who didn’t have much time to prepare before starting against a “real physical, direct threat.”
After giving up the first goal Friday night, the Syracuse players yelled at one another in encouragement, each player wanting to improve in order to aid Daunhauer. But five minutes after the Cardinals’ first penalty kick, Daunhauer once again stared down Fonseca. Olu Oyegunle ran over the Cardinal attempting to dribble inside the box and was subsequently issued a yellow card.
“At the end of the day you can’t change your aggression, you can just change how smart you are with it,” Daunhauer said.
This time, Fonseca took two steps to the left and got Daunhauer to move out of position. He fired back toward the center of the goal and Daunhauer sat on his knees, half-heartedly extending his left arm in a desperation attempt to block the shot. But it went in, and Daunhauer put his arms over his face in disappointment.
“There’s mind games when the same person takes two (penalty kicks),” Daunhauer said. “It’s two people trying to outthink each other, and at the end of the day, one of them is going to win.”
Daunhauer said before Syracuse’s game against Binghamton that his quality performances in his first two starts were a product of trust. He trusts his defenders, and his team trusts him in front of the net. It doesn’t make a difference who’s patrolling the net, Buster Sjoberg said after the Orange’s 7-0 win over the Bearcats. He said he trusts Daunhauer as much as anyone. Daunhauer reiterated that bond of trust after Friday’s loss.
But Louisville entered the night after a win over No. 25 Wake Forest last Friday. The commanding 3-0 win was enough to earn them eight votes in the latest DI men’s soccer rankings — one fewer than Syracuse. It was the first time a team managed three goals on Wake Forest since Syracuse did so in October of 2014.
The Cardinals were off to a fast start, managing a corner kick and a shot on goal within six minutes. Although they ended with just two more shots than the Demon Deacons, Louisville outshot Wake Forest 10-1 in the first half. Friday night’s match played out much like last Friday’s for Louisville. The Cardinals ended the first half with five shots on goal and corner kicks. Within seven minutes of the second half, Louisville had already collected two more shots and another corner.
Daunhauer still began the night with the same success he found in the last three games. In the fifth minute, UL’s Aboubacar Camara worked through his defenders on the left side. He found enough space to pass to Patrick Ajdukiewicz. His shot bounced off the chest of Daunhauer, who was able to hop on it for the save.
“He was good, but he conceded five goals,” McIntyre said. “You can’t teach (stuff like) this — you have to throw him in.”
That success Daunhauer found early on quickly faded as one minute into the second half as Fonseca collected a cross from the far line. He sprinted in toward the nearside crossbar and fired a shot that Daunhauer easily blocked. But he didn’t follow through on stopping the ball, letting it trickle out a few feet in front of him. That allowed Camara, who was already standing in front of the goal, to rifle a quick shot past the head of Daunhauer for another score.
And in the 69th minute, the defense broke down one more time as the Orange allowed a cross pass from Louisville to find its way inside the box. The Orange thought they caught a break when Sinclair sent a header to his left towards the Cardinal offensive formation. But the ball landed in front of Ugochukwu Achara, and his one-timer got past a diving Daunhauer.
“Ultimately, if we’re going to win games in this league, we’re going to have to get shutouts and concede one goal,” McIntyre said.
Syracuse and Daunhauer continued to apply pressure in the first overtime period. Within seconds, the Orange had three quality chances to end the game. First, Jeorgio Kocevski found Giona Leibold on the far side. The defensive midfielder sped up his progression when he saw Detre Bell leak out and leave the majority of the net open. But his shot stumbled wide of the net. Then, Noah Singelmann rifled an attempt from the top of the box wide of the net. The same result happened to Curt Calov minutes later.
McIntyre said that Louisville’s fast-paced talent was causing Syracuse’s formations trouble in the first half. He changed after the first 45, asking his team to take a more aggressive approach. If you took a snapshot of the two overtime periods, you’d see a Syracuse team that looked “stronger and fitter,” McIntyre said. One he thought was going to pull out with a win.
But the Cardinals replicated that pressure in the first two minutes of the double overtime, getting another shot off from the top of the key. But it came down to one possession and to one foul. Oyegunle grabbed the jersey of his Louisville counterpart and was called seconds afterward.
On the ensuing free kick, Sander Roed sent a looping kick spinning counterclockwise inside. Awaiting his service was Josh Jones who rocketed his head forward in the 105th minute of Friday’s game. The ball whizzed past Daunhauer’s left side, and Syracuse’s double-overtime effort fell short.
“We were very good tonight, and we created chances,” McIntyre said. This is not on Lucas. This is from the group down.”
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