No. 11 Syracuse loses third straight home game for first time in 8 years

first_imgThis is not how Syracuse wanted to end its four-game homestand, the longest it will have all season.For the third consecutive game, Syracuse’s missed opportunities turned costly. Defensive mishaps and corner kicks dug the Orange into another hole. Another one that SU couldn’t find a way out of. For the first time since 2011, No. 11 Syracuse (4-3-2, 0-2-1 Atlantic Coast) lost its third straight game, falling to unranked Duke (6-1-1, 2-1), 2-1, at SU Soccer Stadium on Friday night. It’s the first time since 2009 in which SU has dropped three straight home games and the first time since joining the ACC that SU has lost to the Blue Devils.“What do you make out of three straight losses at home?” goalkeeper Hendrik Hilpert said, his voice trailing off. “It’s now urgent we win a game.”Despite controlling possession early, Syracuse did not find answers. Its best opportunity came 18 minutes in, when Hugo Delhommelle chipped a through ball halfway across the field to Tajon Buchanan, something SU has done to exploit Buchanan’s speed against opposing defenses. AdvertisementThis is placeholder textJosh Shub-Seltzer | Contributing PhotographerDuke’s Markus Fjørtoft jumped to head the ball back to his goalie, but the ball skimmed his head and Buchanan found himself on a breakaway with goalkeeper Will Pulisic. He took a few steps with the bouncing ball nearing Pulisic and fired. It ricocheted off Pulisic’s head and back into play. Other times, Syracuse crosses went in front of the net with no player getting a foot on the ball.   Syracuse’s lone defensive mishap in the first half came 18 minutes later. As Duke’s offense pushed, the ball floated into the air inside the penalty area. Djimon Johnson jumped to head the ball away, but it took an off bounce and landed in the center of the area. Brian White, Duke’s leading scorer, controlled the ball, turned and fired by a diving Hilpert for the goal.Despite tripling Duke’s shots, despite beating the Blue Devils in corner kicks, Syracuse couldn’t find the back of the net. Instead, it was Duke converting on its shots and corner kicks. Within 10 minutes of the second half, a corner kick bent toward Hilpert and a packed penalty area. Fjørtoft, all 6-foot-5 of him, headed the ball far post and into the back of the net.He ran out of the pack of players sprinting toward the sideline. He hugged his teammates in celebration, giving Duke the extra insurance goal it needed.“I think we were the better team tonight, and I rarely say that,” SU head coach Ian McIntyre said. “… We made two mistakes tonight and they capitalized.”Josh Shub-Seltzer | Contributing PhotographerFinding itself in a two-goal deficit, Syracuse’s offense pressured Duke. It played more aggressively, moving its wingbacks and defense up as it possessed the ball. A point-blank header by John-Austin Ricks was blocked by Pulisic. Jan Breitenmoser’s cross found itself just under the crossbar, but Pulisic dove and pushed the ball off the post. Another cross was settled by Buchanan, who side stepped a defender and fired. But the ball deflected off a Duke player and landed out of bounds.Then, Syracuse finally found nylon. Sophomore Johannes Pieles sent the ball into Duke’s penalty area to Breitenmoser. With a defender pushing against his back and Pulisic closing in, Breitenmoser back-heel passed the ball to Jonathan Hagman. With no one in front of him, he one-timed the ball to pull SU within one.But it was too late for the Orange. The second-half push couldn’t overcome first-half mishaps, much like the previous two games for SU.“When you concede two goals in the ACC,” sophomore captain Mo Adams said, “you won’t win the game.”As the final buzzer sounded, both teams walked to their respective sides. Syracuse players stood around while Duke players chanted and jumped around in a circle. Even the Duke head coach was clapping and celebrating off to the side. McIntyre walked with his arms out wide. He appeared to be upset. Upset, just like the players after dropping three straight at home, something none of them have experienced at Syracuse. Published on September 22, 2017 at 10:10 pm Contact Charlie: csdistur@syr.edu | @charliedisturco Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Commentslast_img