As has been the case in the last few games, the Syracuse Orange controlled the pace, they led in shots, shots on target, corner, set pieces and had the more solid opportunities. For the fourth time in a row, they walked away without three points. The Louisville Cardinals hosted the Orange and came away the victors in the hard fought 1-0 match down in Kentucky.
To start off, the Orange came out in what seems to be a bit of a formation shift. Without Miles Robinson to cover the right side of the defense (He was called up to US Under-20 duty this week), Coach McIntyre decided to shift to a four man back line, shifting John-Austin Ricks to the right back position, Liam Callahan to the left back, instead of their wing positions, and added another up top. The shift pushed the front line up a little higher than normal on the wings and definitely opened space in the wide midfield.
Through the first half the back and forth slog ended in the 23rd minute as Mo Thiaw slotted one past a charging Hilpert on a breakaway, ending the deadlock. From that point, Louisville took into a bit of a shell for the remainder of the half and took it in to the locker room 1-0.
Coming out at the half, the Orange retained their shape, but it seems Coach Mac instructed the fullbacks to push higher into the attack, resulting in some nice crosses into the box from Callahan and Ricks over the first ten minutes. Oyvind Alseth also drifted wider in the attack.
Unfortunately this team doesn’t particularly thrive on transition, as there were a few points where Louisville wasn’t set up on the counter and the Orange could have taken advantage. Kenny Lassiter and Chris Nanco combined well up top when they were on the field. Especially along the left side of the pitch. Johannes Pieles drifted in and out all match, having moments of solid play, but a few confusing moments as well in the attack. They forced Stefan Cleveland, the Louisville keeper into six saves on the night, with a few decent efforts.
As a note, for the effort, it seems John-Austin Ricks put in a solid shift this week for the absent Miles Robinson. Apparently prior to the Albany match there was minimal notice that Robinson was being called up, with Ricks being slotted in at relatively the last minute. The advanced notice and extra practice have allowed him to settle in quite well, as well as the more traditional left back role.
Overall it was another hard fought game by the Orange, but unfortunately, similar to Notre Dame and UNC, the Orange weren’t able to capitalize on their solid play. Only the Albany loss would be considered anything close to a “bad loss,” the other two losses and draw were to top 10 teams. Here’s to hoping that during the week break that the Orange have, Coach Mac can work some magic and get the boys back on track. Just some minor tweaks, nothing major, but enough to solidify three points out of the home showdown against the Virginia Tech Hokies next Friday, 7pm, at Syracuse Soccer Stadium.