As you probably know, the eighth-seeded Syracuse Orange are set for a match against the ninth-seeded North Carolina Tar Heels in an NCAA Tournament match this Sunday at 2 p.m. ET. The game, originally scheduled to be played at SU Soccer Stadium, was moved to Onondaga Community College’s Murphy Field due to storm damage.
The school has reported that the current field conditions at SU Soccer Stadium were the driving force behind the switch. The snowy conditions that the second round match was played in this past weekend have left the field in a rough state. Murphy Field is a field turf surface that OCC uses for both soccer and lacrosse.
The Orange on the year are 1-0-1 in matches played on field turf. They won away at the University of Hartford (2-0) and lost their match down the Thruway at the University of Albany (1-2). When asked about the change in surface, Coach McIntyre stated he didn’t think it would play into the game for either team.
A good bit of what can change based on the pitch will be dependent on how healthy the squad is. With Chris Nanco coming off last match with a bit of a knock, we’ll see if he’s back in shape to be running onto UNC’s solid backline. They’ve had a week to heal up, and get back to match shape. With the faster surface in the field turf, it may be an advantage for the Orange when it comes to overall team pace.
The prior match on the season ended in a 0-0 draw at SU Soccer Stadium. The hard-fought match was not for a lack of offense, just for a lack of finishing and some real quality goalkeeping. The Orange are finishing at a better clip than they were earlier in the year and the offense seems to be coming around at the right time, registering eight goals in the postseason so far.
North Carolina is an enigma right now, closing the season on a five-game unbeaten streak, including a 2-0 win over NCAA-bound Virginia Tech as well as a 0-0 draw with Notre Dame, culminating in an ACC tournament top seed. They followed that up by losing 1-0 to Boston College in the ACC opening round and squeaking past Florida Gulf Coast in overtime to start off the NCAA Tournament. UNC is a perennial power and this year should be no different. I wouldn’t expect another nil-nil draw, but I think we’re in for a relative dogfight.
Again, the Round of 16 match against UNC will be 2 p.m. on Sunday over at Murphy Field at OCC. Coach Mac and the program have again extended a free ticket offer to the first 250 students. They’re also providing bussing for the students from the College Place bus stop at 1 p.m.