The other day I opined on the Syracuse Orange men’s soccer team’s season and their win against North Carolina. That game was back and forth and the Tar Heels were able to control the play through a good chunk of the game. That was not the case in the ACC Championship semifinals as the Orange controlled the match against the Virginia Cavaliers. However, because this is soccer, the UNC game ended with an Orange win in regulation. The UVA match required extra time and penalties for Syracuse to walk away with a 2-2 draw, advancing 5-3 on penalties to the ACC final.
First things first, congrats to Coach Ian McIntyre on being named ACC Coach of the Year. This is his second ACC Coach of the Year honor, the first being in the 2014 season. Congrats to Coach Mac and the staff on the honor.
The match for the Orange started out cagey, with some activity on both ends of the pitch, but the opening goal came on a Jeorgio Kocevski penalty in the 27th minute. Nathan Opoku was knocked down near the edge of the box, the pen was given after a VAR look at the play and the Orange were on the board. Kocevski calmly knocked it home to secure the lead.
The Cavaliers equalized when service off a recovered corner was sent back into the mixer and Andreas Ueland’s header found the back of the net to equalize before the half. They jumped ahead on a rebound goal by Leo Afonso in the 66th minute and the Orange were staring down elimination late in the match.
In the 84th minute, Opoku received a throw in near the box and worked a series of one-twos with Lorenzo Boselli finishing off a nice move to put the Orange even and send it to extra time. Through both periods of extras, Holden Brown, the Virginia keeper stood on his head, until the penalties.
In the shootout, Syracuse was able to finish all five of their penalties, while Ueland, who scored on the Orange earlier was denied by Russell Shealy to give the Orange the advantage. Colin Biros sealed the victory and sent the Orange on to the next round.
Up next for Syracuse is the ACC Championship Final against frequent foe and defending national champion Clemson down in Cary, North Carolina. Historically against Clemson the Orange have played nothing but tight matchups, including this season, where they knocked the then-number-one ranked Tigers off 2-1 in Clemson. It’s the Orange’s first appearance in the title match since 2015 and their second overall since the move to the ACC. The final will be played at 12pm on Sunday, November 13th and is broadcast on ESPNU.