The Syracuse Orange men’s soccer team was unable to continue it’s postseason unbeaten streak on Wednesday night, falling to the North Carolina Tar Heels, 3-1, in the ACC Tournament Semifinals. A quick start against the run of play for UNC, followed by a poorly timed tackle and red card to Jeorgio Kocevski led to the Orange falling at home to the Tar Heels. They will await their NCAA fate on Selection Monday, November 13th.
After a period of back and forth, which each team controlling and threatening, North Carolina’s Martin Vician put home his first of the night in the sixth minute. A miscommunication between Jaheim Wickham and Gabby Mikina lead to a pressing turnover by UNC’s Quenzi Huerman and laid it off to Vician to slot it home and open the scoring. The game went on for a twenty minute passage of the Orange possessing and UNC absorbing pressure with minimal problems. Syracuse ultimately ended up getting hit on a break by Daniel Kutsch and his first goal on the season, breaking with pace down the right flank to give the Tar Heels the cushion heading into the half.
The match ultimately tilted on a decision early in the second half. Syracuse had just brought back some life into the game, with Nick Kaloukian netting his fourth of the year on a glancing header served up by Kocevski making it a one goal match. Syracuse tracking back on threatening UNC through ball. Buster Sjoberg and Josh Belluz were split wide by some good movement by the Tar Heel forwards. Kocevski tried to track back from the midfield to cut off the advancing UNC attack. He clipped the back of Vician on the way through and without either defender present, was given a straight red card for denial of an obvious goal scoring opportunity. It was initially given as a yellow and rightfully overturned to a red.
Unfortunately the turn of events took the wind out of the Orange sails. While Syracuse fought valiantly down a man and even put some pressure on, UNC was able to grab an insurance goal from Vician in the 70th minute and bringing it to full time at 3-1, with UNC heading on to the conference finals against Clemson. If there was ever a question on the quality of ACC soccer, the finals will be the ever popular #4 vs #7 matchup, after dropping the #6 and #9 seeds in the semifinals. There’s quality all the way down.
Per the latest Bracketology from College Soccer News, it seems the Orange are firmly in. Likely they’ll be hosting a home NCAA Tournament match. They weren’t on the bubble even before two wins in the ACC Tournament, so we’ll see the fate of the squad on Monday, November 13th when the field is selected at 1pm. Kocevski will be missing the opening round match with the subsequent suspension from the red card. This is not reviewable, as the only NCAA red card protests are relating to player identification, illegal participation or violent behavior/fighting.