Syracuse women’s soccer loses in shutout fashion against UNC

UNC shuts out SU women's soccer 1-0

The Orange (7-3) drops its second consecutive game to a Top 5 team.
Published: September 23, 2022
Syracuse University player scores on Cornell goalie
Syracuse midfielder Gianna Savella scores a goal during a match against Cornell on Sept. 11.

Coming off a heartbreaking loss in the 89th minute against Duke last Friday, Syracuse was looking for Carolinian revenge during Thursday’s matchup against No. 3 North Carolina at SU Soccer Stadium.

A different shade of blue for the opponent, however, didn’t end up changing the outcome for Syracuse as the Tar Heels won 1-0 and dropped the Orange to 7-3 for the season.

North Carolina generated multiple shots at the net just six minutes in, but freshman goalkeeper Shea Vanderbosch’s leaping saves negated any possible powder blue scores. 

Substitute forward Tori Dellaperuta put the ball through the net for the Tar Heels at the 32nd minute of play. It would prove to be the only score of the match. Vanderbosch leaped for a save and the ball slipped through her hands, with the rainy conditions possibly at blame. 

After doing its best to hold off North Carolina’s attack in the second half, Syracuse came alive with energy in the final 15 minutes. Despite a diminished crowd, the Orange rode the momentum left in the stands with the clock winding down. 

Syracuse had what looked to be the best look at the net in the 83rd minute, with reserve Blue Ellis streaking down the left side of the field as every fan stand rose to their feet. As her shot soared through the air, it was put to a resounding halt at the hands of UNC’s goalkeeper Emmie Allen.

But just five minutes later, the Orange had their true final chance with a free kick 30 yards out. Midfielder Gianna Savella beautifully placed the ball in the corner of the net, but a save from UNC kept the Orange scoreless. 

Syracuse couldn’t convert on the ensuing final corner kick and suffered their first consecutive loss of the season.  

Syracuse head coach Nicky Thrasher Adams was impressed by Savella’s shot as well as the North Carolina save.

“Oh, come on, soccer gods!” Adams said. “Gianna’s been working on those. She has probably, I would say, the best shot out of anyone on the team and it’s so consistent. Hell of a save by the Carolina goalkeeper. But, Gianna hit it really, really well. You know, they’re going to go in. They’re eventually going to go in.” 

Syracuse defender Jenna Tivnan recounted the shot as an observer.

“When we got fouled I immediately [thought] like oh god, are we going to shoot it, are we going to head it? I was ready to go,” Tivnan said. “And then the shot and I was like okay, great shot, she got it on net, that’s all we can ask for. Great save by the goalkeeper, [and] we got a corner kick on it.” 

Even with surrendering one goal, Vanderbosch continued her stellar play against the Tar Heels. From warmups to the final second, the freshman from Lancaster, N.Y., shines with her form-stopping and routine dives to every corner of the net. 

Adams expressed how she could not be more proud of her recruit in the net.

“Shea is so good at shot spotting. Her feet are so fast. Her ability to get up and down is so quick. It’s one of the main reasons we recruited her, we were so impressed with her shot-stopping ability,” Adams said. “And she proved it tonight … proved us right.

“We expect Shea to make some really big saves, we always expect that from her.” 

Tivnan, a graduate student and team captain on defense, routinely guides her teammates in the defensive third of the field. She expressed her complete trust in Vanderbosch as well.

“We have so much confidence in Shea. We try to give her the easiest shots that we can, but obviously Carolina is Carolina. They’re going to get shots and you have to have confidence to stop those near-post shots, stop the faraway ones, and be there for the miraculous saves every once and awhile,” Tivnan said. 

Next up, the Orange will face Miami, another inter-conference ACC showdown with a lot on the line. The 1 p.m. Sunday game at the SU Soccer Stadium closes out the team’s home stand. 

As for the team’s mindset moving forward? They couldn’t be more ready. 

“I think we’re getting angry. We’re ready to win,” Tivnan said. “We want to win in the ACC. These two games could’ve been big upsets for us and we’re just ready to go against Miami. They’re top 35 RPI [rating percentage index] and what that could do for us is amazing. We can’t take them lightly and we’ve just got to keep going. If we play like this, we’re winning ACC games this year.”