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Syracuse created its first real opportunity of the night five minutes into the game, after keeping the ball mostly in its own half for the initial stages. From the left side of Syracuse’s half, Buster Sjoberg sent a long pass down to the right side to midfielder Luke Biasi. Biasi drove toward the net and crossed into Deandre Kerr for a header opportunity. But Biasi’s cross missed Kerr, and NC State cleared the ball away.
Missed chances plagued Syracuse (6-5-2, 1-3-1 Atlantic Coast) in its goalless draw against NC State (5-4-2, 0-3-2 ACC) on Friday. The Orange lost all three of its previous conference games because of a late-minute or overtime goal. Against No. 23 Louisville and No. 13 Pittsburgh, the Orange lost in double overtime off a header. Against No. 3 Duke, SU conceded the match’s only goal with less than 10 minutes to go.
What separated the Wolfpack from the Orange’s previous opponents, however, was that NC State is the only ACC team with a higher goals-against average than Syracuse. In four conference games before tonight, the Wolfpack gave up eight goals. Despite this, the Orange were unable to get anything past the net through regulation even though they dominated possession and chances for the majority of the match, outshooting their opponent by 13 total shots.
“We probably didn’t create quite enough chances, but I thought we created enough to win this game,” head coach Ian McIntyre said.
Early in the half, SU kept steady possession of the ball and won its aerial battles, placing pressure on the Wolfpack. Orange defender Christian Curti was crucial in these 50-50 battles. Curti won multiple air battles at midfield, made crucial clearances deep in Syracuse’s half and drew fouls.
Despite their constant pressure, the Orange were still unable to get any shots past NC State goalkeeper Leon Krapf. With 31 minutes left in the half, Biasi once again attempted a cross from the right side. The pass was intended for Kerr, Syracuse’s leading goal scorer, but it missed him and the Wolfpack secured possession.
As the first half progressed, Kerr and Manel Busquets attempted multiple give-and-gos at the midfield to spark an SU attack at the 23rd and 27th-minute marks. But both times the NC State defense was immediately on Kerr, effectively shutting down the ACC’s leading point scorer.
McIntyre said that the Wolfpack isolated Busquets and his goal-scoring ability was sorely missed because of that. Kerr found that his and Busquets’ lack of offense was because of the deep line the Wolfpack was playing.
“There wasn’t any spacing behind to get to,” Kerr said. “You’ve got to combine and do a little one-two to try to break them down. We had chances. They just didn’t go in.”
Syracuse continued to put offensive pressure on NC State with seven minutes remaining in the opening half. The Orange put a flurry of chances within the Wolfpack’s box, including one where Curt Calov redirected a ball at the top of the box to start a scrum. But Calov, Curti and Hilli Goldhar all missed their opportunity for a shot in the scrum.
The beginning of the second half followed the theme of the first, however, Syracuse was finally getting shots. In the first 17 minutes of the half, the Orange outshot the Wolfpack 5-0. Eight minutes into the half, Calov was able to get the ball to midfielder substitute Julio Fulcar. Fulcar was able to dump the ball off to Kerr, who rifled a shot wide right of the goal.
McIntyre said Calov and Giona Leibold set the tone for the second half and overtime through plays like that despite those chances not going in.
‘They provided a little bit of dynamism and energy and a little bit more pace to the game to kind of stretch their team,” McIntyre said.
The final 25 minutes of regulation saw more Syracuse pressure where Kerr once again drove toward the top of the box. Kerr laid the ball off to Leibold, allowing the sophomore deeper into the box. Leibold dished it back to Kerr where his shot was blocked by a NC State defender.
The Orange had eight shots and still no goals to show for it by the final 15 minutes of regulation. But with 14:20 left in the game, SU went on the man-advantage. NC State forward Ivy Brisma and Noah Singelmann collided hard, and they both fell to the ground. Brisma was given a yellow card, which caused the Wolfpack sideline to go up in arms with head coach George Kiefer loudly and angrily arguing against the call. More arguing ensued from the Wolfpack, especially from Brisma, leading to a second yellow card that ejected him from the game.
Even with the man advantage, SU still could not find the back of the net. Kerr drove multiple times throughout the rest of the half but wasn’t able to get any quality shots, sending the game to overtime. Despite the benefits of having an extra man, Kerr saw that the red card saw the Wolfpack play even more stoutly in the back.
“(The man-advantage) forced them to play deeper,” Kerr said. “So we had more of the ball, but it was harder to break them down really deep. They were compact, so it made a difference.”
McIntyre said that there were some “half chances” that the Orange probably could have done a little bit better. He also found that SU could’ve gotten more services and players into the box.
“But ultimately when you’re down a guy, you’ve got to play a certain way and they did a good job of disrupting the game, slowing it down,” McIntyre said. “We had enough chances to win this game, and we’ll be a little bit disappointed that we didn’t get three points.”
The early stages of overtime saw even more Syracuse pressure. Eighty seconds into the first overtime period, the Orange were awarded a corner. The Wolfpack initially stopped the attack with ease leading to Krapf attempting to pick up the ball, but Krapf almost gave the game away as he bobbled the ball and gave a chance to Busquets. Krapf recomposed himself and crawled to gain full control.
The second overtime initially saw the Wolfpack go on the offensive end. Minutes into the period, Russell Shealy signaled to Goldhar to pass back to him. Shealy passed poorly to Goldhar, which allowed Yaniv Bazini to take the ball and a shot. Amferny Sinclair came from behind and stole it away to force an unsuccessful corner — another missed shot in a scoreless game. This is the second conference game this season where the Orange couldn’t find the back of the net.
Curti said that while the tie and missed scoring chances will bother the team, the sheer amount of scoring chance gives them belief that those shots will turn into goals.
“It’s frustrating missing opportunities in a game like that,” Curti said. “I thought it was good we didn’t lose our heads and give up a goal because I feel like that happens often in this sport. I feel like a goal will come.”
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