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As Deandre Kerr brought down Simon Triantafillou’s lofted through ball and raced toward goal, the freshman forward knew what he had to do. Normally, Kerr looks to get in behind and outrun his man. But not this time.
“As I got closer to the box, I realized the defender was tight to me,” Kerr said. “I think he knew I was left-footed, so he was forcing me to my right.”
Kerr slowed himself as he entered the box, stopped and chopped back onto his weaker right foot, placing his shot at the near post and opening the scoring on the night.
“It was a good feeling,” Kerr said.
After missing too many chances in their season-opener against Pitt — then being shutout in South Bend — Kerr, who scored both goals, and the Orange offense had their best performance of the season in Syracuse’s (0-2-1, 0-2-1 Atlantic Coast) 2-2 draw against Louisville (1-3-1, 1-1-1). The Orange outshot the Cardinals 15-4 and dominated by retaining possession and creating numerous chances.
Yet Louisville, which converted both of its shots on target, punished Syracuse’s lack of ruthlessness, as the Orange converted just two of their eight shots on target. Luther Archimede also missed a penalty.
“We changed our formation a little bit today to get Luther and Deandre kinda going through the middle,” head coach Ian McIntyre said. “I thought both of them were terrific, Manel (Busquets) tonight as well.
Reverting back to last season’s preferred 3-5-2 formation, Syracuse’s trio of forwards – Kerr, Archimede and Busquets – constantly made runs into the channels, linking up with midfielders and looking to find quick balls over the top into the box or cutbacks for their strike partners.
Even before Kerr put the Orange in front in the first half, the Archimede and Kerr partnership was working. When Louisville lost the ball in the SU half, defenders and midfielders like Sondre Norheim and Triantafillou looked to quickly loft balls forward, allowing Kerr and Archimede to use their speed. It constantly caught the Cardinals out, leading to many of the six fouls Louisville committed in the half.
But those set pieces — like when an onrushing Abdi Salim just missed Noah Singelmann’s cross that curved inward at the far post — were emblematic of Syracuse’s game. Creating chances wasn’t the problem; finishing them was.
In one sequence, Kerr received a pass on the right wing, turning quickly onto his left foot and picking out Singelmann all alone in the box, but the midfielder’s first touch was poor and the chance evaporated. Yet shortly after the roles reversed, as Singelmann was played in down the right, driving a low cross into the box that Kerr converted, only for the linesman’s flag to go up and the goal was disallowed. Still the Orange bench, sensing their forwards growing into the game, shouted encouragement and told Kerr to keep it up.
Syracuse forwards quickly ripped open the Cardinals’ defense in the second half. Busquets, who came in to spell Kerr, collected a backheel from Archimede, weaving toward the left corner of the box, before shifting the ball onto his right foot and curling a shot that smacked the post just three minutes after the restart.
Minutes later, the Orange should’ve had their second goal. A poor clearance fell to midfielder Amferny Sinclair and he found a striding Archimede with another quick, lofted through pass. Archimede controlled it in stride, looking up to find an onrushing keeper and cooly pushed the ball to his left, easily avoiding the keeper for what would’ve been a tap-in. But the Louisville goalie, Osmar Chavero, brought down Archimede, as the referee awarded SU with a penalty and promptly awarded Chavero a red card.
As Archimede strode up to the spot for the penalty, it seemed a foregone conclusion he would score. Subbed into the game for his first ever collegiate appearance was reserve keeper William Howard. But Howard guessed correctly and dove low to his left and saved Archimede’s penalty.
Still, with a man-advantage, Syracuse continued to enjoy the majority of chances. After much of the attacks had gone down the right wing with Triantafillou, the second half was almost all down the left with Hilli Goldhar.
But the two wingbacks combined, with Triantafillou’s cross-field switch brought down by Goldhar on the edge of the Cardinal box. Goldhar’s man slipped, and Goldhar raced past another Cardinal defender before cutting back a cross right to Kerr, who made no mistake and slotted into the bottom right corner where Howard couldn’t save this time.
Yet a minute after taking a two goal advantage, Louisville pulled one back. Then, another. As the game wore on into overtime, SU continued to dominate play, eventually playing all three of Archimede, Busquets and Kerr as it continued to search for a winner that never was found. The closest the Orange came was Sinclair’s shot outside the box that a leaping Howard turned behind with just two minutes to go in the second overtime period.
After the game, McIntyre acknowledged that his side should’ve scored more than two goals and put the game beyond doubt. Yet, he also knows this game wasn’t entirely on his offense.
“Ultimately, we can’t be looking to win every game 3-2 or 4-2,” McIntyre said. “We conceded a man up, that’s unacceptable.”
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