As has been the case during all of their meetings since the series started, the No. 7 Syracuse Orange and the No. 3 Clemson Tigers played out a heck of a match on Sunday. Unfortunately, the Tigers were able to best the Orange yet again on penalties (4-2) and are moving on to the ACC Tournament final.
As has been the case in the last three meetings prior to this, regular time wasn’t enough to have someone advance. The last two meetings had ended in draws. This was no different, finishing 1-1 after two overtimes, forcing penalties to decide the winner.
As would be expected between these two sides, the game started as a defensive battle, with both teams playing up to the standard that had gotten them there. The Orange had their best chance with Chris Nanco receiving an over-ball late in the first half that he put past the far post. The Syracuse forwards were capable of pulling Clemson defenders off their lines, but the quality defense marked well and closed quick to cut down on any chances available sending the Orange into the half scoreless.
Just prior to the half, the Orange were forced to sub off Nanco for Kyle Gurrieri due to what looked like a hamstring injury. He pulled up on a shot attempt late in the half and tried to play through but it seemed the explosiveness was gone and he was visibly limping. Here’s to hoping it’s nothing serious and he returns for the first NCAA matchups.
The second half was a bit more open from the start, back and forth. Syracuse’s best scoring chance came early in the half, hitting on the counter resulting in a four on two opportunity. Kalifa Sylla had space open in front of him and he took a solid swing from outside the box. Unfortunately the shot was punched away by Clemson keeper Ximo Mirallas and dropped to a Clemson defender who was able to daylight the ball to Diego Campos, who beat Louis Cross one on one for a showdown with keeper Hendrik Hilpert that he slotted home.
Upon going down, the Orange had to shift their outlook and took to the attack, while Clemson hunkered a little. The attack showed a good bit of solid possession and pressure, resulting in a penalty attempt for Sergio Camargo in the grand scheme of things. Thanks to a Clemson defender’s handball in the box, Camargo was able to equalize, sending the match to extra time.
Through the extra times, each team had a few opportunities, but you could tell the legs were getting a bit on the heavy side. Mo Adams made good on what was Clemson’s best chance in the first overtime with a sliding goal line clearance. The rest of the game saw the Orange get off three more shots with none on target, leaving it to penalties.
Clemson brought on what was apparently their penalty specialist, Brady Allardice, and he did his job. After Kamal Miller slotted his first home, Allardice was able to save both Camargo and Jan Breitenmoser’s attempts to give the Clemson enough of a lead that even Kenny Lassiter’s well placed kick wasn’t enough to pull it around.
Syracuse will now await Selection Monday and see where they will be seeded in the NCAA Tournament on November 14. With a No. 7 NSCAA ranking and a No. 11 RPI, they should be solidly in the top half of the field.