LYNN STADIUM- It was an important game for both of these sides Friday night, as #3 Syracuse (8-3-1, 2-2-1 ACC) were looking to rebound off of a disappointing midweek loss to Albany and the eighth-ranked Cards (9-1-2, 4-0-1 ACC) were looking to maximize their points haul in the midst of their 3 game home stand. Louisville came out on top 1-0.
The game opened up well for the Cards, with a shot coming from Jack Gayton in the 95th second of the contest, beating the keeper but striking the post. U of L controlled most of the opening spell of the game culminating in what would be the sole score in the game, a great individual effort by Mohamed Thiaw getting around a couple of defenders before pitching it over a charging Hendrik Hilpert in goal for the Orange for his 9th goal on the year.
Much of the succeeding phase of play was up and down, with neither team settling down and dictating the play. U of L looked to perhaps have a slight edge, thanks to a couple of set piece plays in the Syracuse’s third. As the half wore on, the teams started getting into it, the match got very physical although referee Mark Kadlecik refrained from issuing any warnings apart from a yellow for Jack Gayton for pulling down a fast breaking Syracuse player.
The second half was met with renewed offensive pressure by Syracuse, with them pushing far up the pitch, and earning several shots on goal, but nothing too difficult for Stefan Cleveland to deal with in between the posts for the Cards. Centerback Michael DeGraffenreidt put in a strong performance, dealing with everything that came his way without fault. Cleveland walked away with the clean sheet and the man of the match designation, but DeGraffenreidt was equally influential in keeping the Orange at bay.
As the second half wore on, it became Syracuse who kept pushing for the goal. The Cards didn’t get a shot in the second half until the 73rd minute, and they looked more determined in preserving the lead than building on it.
Stephen Cleveland’s six saves earned him the man of the match award, the most crucial of which came in the 84th minute that pushed Jonathan Hagman’s shot just beyond his near post. Apart from Thiaw’s first half decider, there was little in the way of offensive production for the Cards, yielding just two shots on goal.
Up next for the Cards is a top-10 match-up against #6 Indiana at 7:00 p.m., on Tuesday night from the friendly confines of Lynn. That match concludes their three game home stint before they take to the road to resume their conference schedule against Wake Forest on Saturday.