Offensive struggles in the final third doom Syracuse comeback in 2-1 loss to North Carolina State

first_imgHugo Delhommelle walked by himself away from midfield. Some North Carolina State players threw their hands in the air in celebration while others talked to Syracuse players. But Delhommelle stood alone, hand over his mouth and then on his sides. Two minutes passed by before he walked to reconvene with his team.Again, Syracuse’s (5-6-2, 0-4-1 Atlantic Coast) offense failed to consistently finish in the final third. After digging itself into a 2-0 hole to start the second half, the Orange played aggressive. It got one goal back on a penalty kick but, like the previous four home games,  SU couldn’t complete the comeback in a 2-1 loss to N.C. State (6-4-1, 2-3) on Friday night at SU Soccer Stadium. SU has now dropped five straight at home for the first time since 2009.“It’s one of those days when nothing goes as you want it to be,” junior Jonathan Hagman said.Syracuse attacked N.C. State’s defense to open the game, much like it had against Akron on Tuesday. John-Austin Ricks chipped a deep through ball to Tajon Buchanan who beat two defenders with his speed and crossed in front of the net. Delhommelle quickly shot, but Leon Krapf made a diving stop.The next few minutes, SU controlled possession but couldn’t get the ball into the penalty area. N.C. State countered and scored seven minutes in, netting the opening goal. Like in its previous four losses, the Orange trailed to start the game.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe offense remained aggressive despite the one-goal whole. Buchanan pushed upfield and Hagman pointed into open space, looking for a pass. The through ball came nowhere near Hagman and N.C. State took possession.A few plays later, defender Sondre Norheim tried crossing the ball into the penalty area. But it went directly into the hands of Krapf. That was a constant for the Orange on Friday: Crosses sailing, missing SU players in the penalty area and the ball ending up in Krapf’s hands for a Wolfpack counter attack.“It’s not just today, it’s the whole season,” Delhommelle said of the Orange’s crosses and set pieces. “We have the opportunity … and we’re just missing the goal, the bit of luck.”Much like it had all season, Syracuse’s offense worked through the air toward Buchanan. The Orange chipped balls that sent the freshman forward on deep runs in the final third. Usually, he was able to get a foot on it, trying to beat a double team that opponents would deploy. But on Friday, it was not the case.Defender Justin Earle looked upfield and yelled out “Tajon over.” He kicked the ball over half the field but Buchanan couldn’t get to the ball fast enough. Krapf corralled the loose ball.For every first-half missed pass Syracuse made, N.C. State made up for it. Pushing upfield on a counter attack run, N.C. State’s Tanner Roberts crossed the ball into the penalty area. Julius Duchscherer came trailing behind and one-timed the ball, slotting it into the right corner to give the Wolfpack a two-goal advantage.The rest of the first half remained similar. Crosses sailed over players’ heads or were intercepted. One-on-ones were picked off by Wolfpack defenders. A stutter-step cross by Adnan Bakalovic rolled into the penalty area untouched.“We were limited first half,” SU head coach Ian McIntyre said. “… Our first-half service wasn’t good enough.”During halftime, Syracuse tried to regroup. The team found itself in a common, deep hole. The players decided “we have to come together,” Hagman said. And they did.The second half was dominated by the Orange, controlling possession for the majority of the frame. Instead of blind crosses, SU worked down the sidelines or used give-and-gos to create space. But the Orange couldn’t piece anything together outside of a penalty kick goal from Kamal Miller.Delhommelle controlled possession and passed the ball before a N.C. State defender closed in and fouled him. He crossed a free kick into the penalty area and off a Wolfpack player’s hand, giving the Orange a penalty kick. Miller beat Krapf right cornerThe aggressive approach by the Orange led to nine shots, including six in the second half, and seven penalty kicks. It outshot N.C. State by five (four in the second half) and only surrendered one late-game corner kick. Rarely did the Wolfpack make its way into the final third in the second half.“I’d rather lose a game 4-nil by attacking than sitting back,” sophomore captain Mo Adams said, “kind of wondering what’s going on and regretting those missed opportunities.”The last two corner kicks by Delhommelle sailed over the entire packed penalty area and out of bounds. Even as Syracuse pushed upfield, leaving only Hilpert back — he was at midfield — it couldn’t find that final ball it had been looking for to tie the game.“Everything felt perfect before the game today,” Hagman said.But once the game actually started, the Orange felt anything but perfect. Comments Published on October 6, 2017 at 10:50 pm Contact Charlie: | @charliedisturco Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more