Syracuse struggles to defend set pieces in 3-2 loss against Notre Dame

September 16, 2020

first_imgSyracuse’s game plan was simple: Limit Notre Dame’s set pieces. It didn’t.Film studies were dedicated to finding a solution. One was concocted, but it proved futile. Coaches drilled it into players in practice throughout the week. On Friday night, they watched defenders shake their heads thrice. Multiple defenders said they knew it was coming. And they couldn’t stop it anyway.For a bulk of the game, the Orange out defended the Fighting Irish. With the return of Kamal Miller, the backline stepped up. Yet, three set pieces gave No. 12 Notre Dame (4-0-1, 1-0 Atlantic Coast) all the offense it needed in its 3-2 win over Syracuse (2-2, 0-1) in SU Soccer Stadium. Orange head coach Ian McIntyre said SU played well defensively, but for three moments, it failed. Ultimately, it proved the difference between itself and the No. 12 team in the country.“We knew some of the threats they were going to bring,” McIntyre said, “and they exposed us and exploited us on some of those.”UND mustered only three shots in the first half. SU, led by Miller, snuffed out Notre Dame’s wing-based offense. In the second half, McIntyre said, the Fighting Irish went “direct.” It pressed forward and lofted passes through the middle of Syracuse’s 3-5-2.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textMost of the time, a cross to the midfield found the head of an Orange player who knocked it away. Though some crosses yielded fouls in UND’s favor. Time and again, the referee blew his whistle, jogged to the spot and awarded Notre Dame a set piece.Following a foul on an SU defender, UND had a restart from midfield. The ball careened out for a corner kick. Syracuse zeroed in on Notre Dame’s “main target,” 6-foot-3 center back Patrick Berneski. In the 53rd minute, Berneski sliced through the SU blockade, rose and knocked in his team-leading fourth goal. After controlling, and not capitalizing on a dominant first half, Syracuse stared down a one-goal deficit.“We knew everything about them,” midfielder Hugo Delhommelle said, “it’s very annoying. … When you leave space for those kinds of players, they punish you.”Five minutes later, following another SU foul, UND earned a free kick near midfield. McIntyre shouted directives to Delhommelle. The senior midfielder, playing in a deeper position for the first time in nearly a decade, was positioned in front of the penalty box, too far from the horde of jerseys.The ball sent into the box, Delhommelle shuffled to clear it but was a step too late. The mishit skied the ball in the air and to the foot of Thomas Ueland. His looping shot floated over and past SU goalie Hendrik Hilpert. 2-0.“That’s my role,” Delhommelle said. “When the ball is in this area it’s my responsibility to clear it. I made a mistake.”Both Delhommelle and Miller stressed postgame that UND’s goals would never happen again. The former called each score a “one-in-10” occurrence. In the 75th minute, SU then a goal behind, Notre Dame’s Felicien Dumas punctuated the visitor’s third set piece goal with a free kick. Just outside the box, Dumas swung his left leg forward and shelved it past Hilpert. Dumas charged his sideline, a mosh of teammates waiting for him. Hilpert could only watch.Postgame, Hilpert signed autographs for young fans with a stern look on his face. He bumped a bystander on his march to the locker room and kept walking.“It’s a bit of a slap in the face because we prepared so, so hard for it,” Miller said. Published on September 7, 2018 at 11:24 pm Contact Nick: [email protected] | @nick_a_alvarez Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Commentslast_img

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