Men’s Soccer program put their 3-1-1 conference record on the line Friday night when they played host to fellow top-25 team Syracuse. The Cards came in off the back of a nervy 1-0 win over Georgia Southern on tuesday night iin what was their last non-conference matchup of the regular season.
The opposing Orange were red-hot coming into this one, winning their last three matches by a combined 8-1.
The rain descended on Lynn Stadium just as the match kicked off, and Syracuse immediately looked the part of the aggressor. They held almost all of the meaningful possession during the first quarter hour. Their pressure finally forced an error in the Cards’ organization when a midfield turnover left sophomore Tajon Buchanan with a path to goal, which he converted in the 16th minute. The visitors nearly doubled their lead moments later when striker Massimo Ferin squandered a sitter just yards in front of Jake Gelnovatch’s goal.
“They simply had more energy and turned it into a couple of goals,” Coach Ken Lolla said after the fact, “typical of this team, in those situations, we can respond”
The game opened up considerably for the Cards after that let-off when Tate Schmitt led a foray into opposing territory, left a brilliant grounded cross to Cameron Wheeler, only to have it blocked within the Syracuse goal area.
For their effort, the home team couldn’t garner anything meaningful and a quick counter attack for the ‘Cuse combined with a contentious no-call on a small pull from Buchanan left the Forward with his second goal of the night and 5th of the season.
It looked like the Cards were going to head to the break with it all to do, but a late corner from Ziyad Fekri found the head of key man Tate Schmitt just outside the 6 yard box, who’s header left Orange keeper Hendrik Hilpert with absolutely no chance at his third consecutive clean sheet, the first period ended with Syracuse up by one.
“I think that we just weren’t really ourselves in the first half. I think that we picked it up in the second half and showed the way we can play and that showed” Senior Adam Wilson said post-game.
The cards came out of the locker room still looking too nonchalant on the ball, coupled with an organized Syracuse defense, things grew frustrating for the home faithful. UofL still stayed positive in possession though, flipping the script of the first half.
Corner after corner came for the Cards, and as a Syracuse defender handled it inside of his own box in the 57th minute, the referee pointed to the spot. Adam Wilson converted an emphatic effort.
On what was going though his mind as he stepped up to the penalty spot, Wilson simply offered: “Just get it in the back of the net.”
Play was rather segmented the following spell of the match, it was a lot of close passes, a rare cross in, nothing particularly threatening to either ‘keeper, until the 67th minute when Cameron Wheeler sent a shot from the edge of the box, which only rattled a Syracuse post.
The game dragged a bit, there were exchanges of possession and UofL had a couple of chances but the focus of the game fell onto the refereeing crew as the match looked destined for overtime. Several belated or downright missed calls in the opinion of the home crowd left Cards fans feeling hard done by. Things finished level at the end of regulation, and the exasperating fate of “sudden victory” hanged over Lynn stadium along with some remaining rain clouds.
Syracuse nearly won it in the 8th minute of Extras as Jonathan Hangman’s first shot of the match beat the outstretched arm of Gelnovatch, but ricocheted off the post. This came moments after William Portman went into the book for a contentious challenged that broke up a Syracuse counterattack. He joined teammates Conte and Wheeler who had previously had their particulars taken down. The game would see a second overtime period.
Each team recorded a shot in 2OT, but things ended even in this dogfight.
The result sees UofL’s conference record move to 3-1-2, with 7-2-3 overall. The Cards maintain their spot at second in the Atlantic Division, with a matchup at Wake Forest looming on the last matchday of conference play. That will have to wait as the cards play Lipscomb and last-placed Clemson next Tuesday and Saturday, respectively. The outfit can still win the ACC regular season title, helped by North Carolina and Notre Dame both losing Friday night.
Louisville- Schmitt, 41:55; Wilson, 56:25 (Penalty)
Kevin Kernen is the senior men's soccer correspondent for River City Cards. He also is the color commentator for Louisville City FC, and co-host of Soccer City Radio... MORE