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Aboubacar Camara hung in the middle of Syracuse’s box before sneaking behind Julio Fulcar and toward the post. When Louisville’s Haji Abdikadir took a corner kick with just under 10 minutes remaining in the second half, Camara tracked the ball to his foot and faced an open SU net.
He’d almost tied the game seconds before, receiving a long pass and counter-attack deep in Syracuse’s end. But a diving tackle from Abdi Salim pushed the ball out of bounds. On that ensuing corner, though, Camara converted.
For the previous 80 minutes, the Orange had worked to build, and protect, their two-goal lead. After an early first-half tally, they lacked an elusive second goal, and an elusive boost of insurance to force two Louisville equalizers. DeAndre Kerr extended the Orange’s lead in the 76th minute, but Syracuse’s lead diminished once the Cardinals scored just one minute later. It evaporated completely 180 seconds after that.
“We were playing well and I think we started to get comfortable with the two goal lead,” Kerr said. “Then they snuck a goal back and that’s when the momentum shifted.”
Louisville erased a 75-minute long deficit with two goals in three minutes against Syracuse (0-2-1, 0-2-1 Atlantic Coast), forcing overtime and eventually a 2-2 tie on Friday night. Despite the Orange totaling 12 corner kicks, including seven in overtime, and out-shooting the Cardinals 8-2, they remain winless at the halfway point of a shortened 2020 season.
“There’s no real other way to kinda slice it — this is very disappointing for us not to come away with three points,” head coach Ian McIntyre said.
For Syracuse, those missing finishing touches and opportunities in the final third against the Cardinals were also absent during its first two games. When compounded with defensive breakdowns, a lack of offense sunk SU to two-straight losses. With Pittsburgh, the Orange couldn’t “keep a quality team down for a full 90 minutes,” McIntyre said. With Notre Dame, it was a “naive” early goal on a set piece.
After striking first against the Cardinals, though, SU finally had a chance to control the game’s tempo, dictating possession and holding Louisville to no shots through most of the game. In the 35th minute, Simon Triantafillou connected on his long ball and Kerr sprinted toward the Louisville box. Syracuse’s freshman forward had a step on his defender, switching from his left to his right foot while taking a step back.
To that point, Syracuse had controlled possession throughout the entirety of the frame but couldn’t connect on a finishing touch. Two goals had been called back offsides. Numerous other opportunities were extinguished by the Cardinals only after they ended in the final third. Then, Kerr fired a ball past a diving Osmar Chavero and into the net, giving Syracuse its first lead of the season.
The Orange struggled to expand their lead, though. They had before Kerr’s goal, too. Early in the opening half, on a corner in the third minute from Hilli Goldhar, his short pass crossed to Noah Singelmann, but the shot toward Chavero was touched offside in the box.
“We couldn’t get the ball in and find its way to our players and into the back of the night,” Kerr said. “That’s just how it is sometimes.”
Syracuse continued to control possession throughout the rest of the first half, not allowing Louisville to establish chances beyond set pieces. Minutes into the second half, Luther Archimede raced toward goal as Chavero slid and tackled the Syracuse forward. Archimede — who missed the Orange’s loss against the Fighting Irish because of a red card — thrust both his hands up in the air from the ground. Chavero was shown a red card, Archimede was granted a penalty kick, and backup goalkeeper William Howard jogged in from the Cardinals’ bench.
Sprawling right, Howard saved Archimede’s shot and forced a corner — even as Syracuse spent the next five minutes pleading for a re-kick due to Louisville having too many players on the field at once. Goldhar paced in a circle with the ball, before eventually taking the corner kick, which was another Syracuse chance that lacked a finishing touch.
As the second half ticked into the final minutes, Syracuse continued to hold Louisville without a shot. SU’s Sondre Norheim sent another chance toward the box that connected with Goldhar. He pulled back, sending a Louisville defender to the ground, and cut around the corner. Howard jumped out to play the ball, but that left Kerr open by the right post.
He corralled Goldhar’s pass, finished his second goal of the night, and embraced a group of Syracuse players by the corner flag.
In Syracuse’s season-opening loss to Pittsburgh, it failed to capitalize on chances in extra time while down a man after Archimede’s red card. Against Louisville, though, a Triantafillou’s cross narrowly missed Archimede just three minutes into the first overtime. Archimede couldn’t connect on another bicycle kick attempt from in the box, and Louisville sailed its shot on the counter wide.
Goldhar set the ball down in the right corner as McIntyre waved more players into the box. The clock ticked down into the final minutes of the second overtime, one of seven set pieces Syracuse had in the final 10 minutes to break the tie.
All seven failed. Some resulted in chances, in loose balls in the box just needing that finishing touch. But none ended in goals. Goldhar’s corner sailed toward the Cardinal box, and Salim couldn’t connect on a header near the right post. Howard corralled the ball as Salim shook his head as he jogged back toward his center back spot.
“This game should’ve been long over before they scored,”McIntyre said.
Syracuse blew a two-goal lead while up a man to reach that point. Then it faltered on final chances in the extra time periods. And those missed opportunities, the same ones that caused losses the first two games, ensured the Orange still left SU Soccer Stadium without their first win.
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