Women’s soccer loses heartbreaker to Louisville in the final minute

Syracuse loses on 90th minute penalty

Cardinals' late penalty kick crush's Orange hopes of comeback completion.
Published: September 23, 2021
Syracuse midfielder Koby Commandant (16) escapes a Louisville Cardinals defender at SU Soccer Stadium on Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021.
Syracuse midfielder Koby Commandant (16) escapes a Louisville Cardinals defender at SU Soccer Stadium on Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021.

Everyone at SU Soccer Stadium on Thursday night was reminded just how cruel sports can be. Foul in the box, penalty, top corner, game over. One team lost, another won.

Syracuse women’s soccer lost to the University of Louisville 2-1 after a 90th-minute penalty by Anouk Denton. The last-minute penalty was awarded after freshman center back Emma Klein tackled the Cardinal’s Julia Simon from behind on a loose ball.

“I don’t think anybody plays for a game to end so abruptly with that call,” Syracuse Head Coach Nicky Adams said. “For any team to lose like that you feel gutted.”

Despite the late-game heartbreak, the game was fairly balanced for the other 89 minutes. Louisville played better in the first half before Syracuse found their footing in the second and tried to equalize.

The game started with both teams looking comfortable in midfield. Syracuse threatened to score in the first ten minutes when freshman midfielder Koby Commandant found senior forward Meghan Root running into the box. Root’s shot was deflected high and striker Hannah Pilley couldn’t connect from close range on the rebound.

However, it was Louisville who broke through first with a goal two minutes later from Delaney Snyder. The ball fell to her in the box after a cross from the left was deflected, which she promptly finished into the bottom left corner.

Syracuse had to rely on its two most talented players, Root and freshman midfielder Pauline Machtens, to pull them out of this difficult moment of the game. The two were able to use their quality on the ball to carve open the Louisville defense in transition several times.

But the Orange struggled to turn their play into opportune scoring chances. In the 29th minute, Root beat her defender on the left-wing and let off a shot straight at the keeper.

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Syracuse goalkeeper Lysianne Proulx winds up to clear the ball against the Louisville Cardinals at SU Soccer Stadium on Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021.

The second half was tense and provided few clear opportunities for either team. Louisville seemed content to protect their lead, given SU’s first-half struggles to finalize their midfield transition offense.

“If we [could] complete two passes we feel like we’d be able to get in,” Adams said. “We were breaking down either with the first pass or the second pass so we did a much better job in the second half with the transition piece.”

Adams’ predictions paid off in the 67th minute when a sharp pass from freshman defender Kendyl Lauher was able to put Root through on goal. Lauher’s pass may have opened up the field, and created the chance, but Root put plenty of her own quality into the finish with a wonderful chip that fell perfectly onto the back of the net.

The rest of the half featured few real chances as both team’s energy levels waned towards the end of the game. Between the fatigue and the poor weather, a draw seemed almost certain until the moment of the game in the final minute.