Your Syracuse Orange put forth as valiant effort as you can ask for. They dominated the run of play, controlled the game and took it to the Clemson Tigers for probably 100 of the 120 minutes played. Unfortunately after that the game goes to penalty kicks, which is truly a complete crapshoot. The game ended up being decided by penalties, which the Orange were just not quite up for.
From the first whistle, Syracuse pressed the offense. The ball was moving well down the flanks and the midfield was being controlled well. The physicality that the Orange displayed was quality, going toe to toe with an extremely talented and physical Clemson squad. Unfortunately, due to a last ditch tackle to avoid what could have been a very dangerous ball into the box, Liam Callahan, Syracuse's left winger pulled up with a knock to his leg in the 32nd minute and couldn't re-enter the game. Korab Syla filled in quite adequately for him, but the shortening of the bench really hurt in the double overtime.
Andrew Tarbell, the Clemson keeper, singlehandedly kept the Tigers in the match. He finished with a total of 8 saves. One of those was one on one with Ben Polk in the second half. Easily the best chance of the match. Polk, notoriously clinical, wasn't able to slot it home and Chris Nanco couldn't get enough on the rebound.
The Orange finished out front in all statistical categories. The totaled 15 shots, with eight on target. They also pulled off 10 corners. Clemson was only able to muster 5 shots, 3 on goal and 6 corners. Overall heavily slanted in Syracuse's favor.
With less than ten sconds left in the second half, there was a very solid scoring opportunity, which lead to the ball bouncing around the box. Julian Buescher came down with it, settled, and made a move past a Clemson defender. Buescher was then dispossessed, but fought to maintain the ball. He pulled the trigger, but the ball went off the defender's hand in the box. Outstretched hand, in the box, I don't care if it's within the last seconds, that's the definition of a penalty.
The overtime periods were more of the same, with the Orange in the drivers seat, but Clemson holding on. You could tell towards the end that both squads were completely gassed and the game technically ended in a draw, with the winner to advance out of the penalty kick shootout. The fact that penalties are a horrible way to decide a match notwithstanding, the Orange couldn't get it done from the spot. Oyvind Alseth had his first penalty saved, Julian Buescher slotted his home, and Oscar Sewerin was unable to get it done with his third, while the Clemson penalty takers slotted all of theirs home.
Overall its a very difficult way to end what has been one heck of a season. The squad has posted many records, both individually and as a team, including their first trip to the College Cup. This is a very young squad who can, dare I say, improve for next year. I'll be looking into breaking down the season over the next few weeks. Here's to a great season for the boys that should have culminated in better than it did.