Syracuse men’s soccer loses in ACC opener against Notre Dame

SU falls to Notre Dame in ACC opener

Fighting Irish capitalize on set pieces to move past the Orange.
Published: September 8, 2018

The Syracuse men’s soccer team fought valiantly in a 3-2 loss to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Syracuse Soccer Stadium on Friday night.

Syracuse had the upper hand for most of the game but ended up as the losing team due to some questionable refereeing decisions which gifted Notre Dame opportunities from set pieces in key moments.

“We did a good job of harassing them and making life difficult,” Syracuse head coach Ian McIntyre said.

After a 0-0 stalemate in the first half – in which Syracuse dominated possession and chances – the referee awarded Notre Dame a free kick deep on the right side after Orange center back Kamal Miller and Fighting Irish substitute winger Paul Rothock collided. Miller went down on the play after what appeared to be a fairly won ball, but the referee gave the free kick to Notre Dame.

The ensuing set piece was driven into the box by Felicien Dumas and forced out for a corner before Dumas again whipped a ball into the box. This time, Patrick Berneski was there to nod it in for Notre Dame against the run of play. It was the Fighting Irish defender’s fourth goal of the season.

“The problem is when a team goes direct, if you give up a foul, they march players down and put balls in the box,” Coach McIntyre said. “They got on the end of a couple of those.”

With the lead, Notre Dame settled into the game a little more and started possessing the ball in the midfield. Six minutes after the first goal, the ball fell to Irish forward Thomas Ueland after Orange midfielder Hugo Delhommelle failed to clear a free kick. The Notre Dame senior capitalized, looping the ball over Syracuse goalkeeper Hendrik Hilpert from 25 yards out.

The second goal appeared to deflate Syracuse momentarily but SU continued to push, applying similar amounts of pressure as the first half.

“We huffed and puffed,” Coach McIntyre said. “On another day, we take something from this game.”

Their efforts were rewarded in the 65th minute when Orange substitute John Austin-Ricks and Notre Dame’s Mohamed Omar crashed in the box and tipped the ball onto Omar’s arm. There was not much the Irish defender could have done to avoid it touching his arm but the referee decided it was enough to award a penalty kick. Orange forward Massimo Ferrin drove it home to get Syracuse back in the game.

At this point, the referee had made his mark on the game. He was calling some soft fouls on both sides, causing the game to slow down a little and did not allow either team to take control of a match in the balance.

“It’s tough on the referee,” Coach McIntyre said in reference the physicality of ACC play and the job he did tonight.

Another questionable decision decided the match in the 75th minute. Notre Dame, following a chance from the Orange at the other end, were building a quick counter after midfielder Tommy McCabe won the ball and tried to play in Aiden McFadden in the left channel. McFadden appeared to be tripped by Syracuse defender Len Zeugner, but replays showed little contact. Still, the ref awarded another free kick in a dangerous area.

As he did for the whole match, Irish defender Felicien Dumas stood over the set piece. This time, he took the shot himself and curled a delightful shot into the top corner, putting the game just out of reach for Syracuse.

While the Orange managed to score again in the 83rd minute through a Sondre Norheim strike into the roof of the net, they couldn’t find the equalizer in the final seven minutes of play and the Irish went home as the victors.

“In order to be good at this level, you’ve got to leave it all out there,” McIntyre said. “And our guys did that.”

Syracuse falls to 0-1-0 in ACC play and face Colgate next on Sept 10.