Women's Soccer

Syracuse women’s soccer eliminated from ACC tournament contention with 3-1 loss to North Carolina

Sam Ogozalek | Staff Writer

Jessica Vigna rubs her eyes on Sunday at SU Soccer Stadium. The Orange was eliminated from ACC tournament contention.

Four Syracuse defenders surrounded Bridgette Andrzejewski in the box. It appeared to be an easy stop for the Orange.

Andrzejewski pushed the ball in the opposite direction, away from the net. She then fired a shot while running backward, catching SU’s defense by surprise. It rocketed inside the top right post past goalkeeper Courtney Brosnan’s outstretched hands.

Brosnan lay still on the ground with her head between her legs. She then erupted upward and punched the post in disgust.

Syracuse had a strong start as it dominated possession and fired multiple shots on net in the first 20 minutes. The Orange appeared quicker and more physical than No. 15 North Carolina. But by the 24th minute, SU trailed UNC, 2-0.

Syracuse (8-7-3, 1-6-2 Atlantic Coast) quickly collapsed in its 3-1 loss to UNC (10-3-3, 5-2-2) on Sunday at SU Soccer Stadium after beginning the match well. That depicts SU’s season. Syracuse won three of its first four games (the other was a draw) en route to its best start since 2003. But reminiscent of previous seasons, the Orange collapsed in ACC play.

“We knew the result today would make it or break it,” Syracuse head coach Phil Wheddon said.

Aside from a sole win against Pittsburgh, the worst team in the ACC, Syracuse fell apart at the most vital point in the season.

The loss eliminated Syracuse from contention for the ACC tournament, which includes eight teams. Syracuse would have had to beat UNC and Boston College on Thursday, and hope other teams lose, to make the tournament.

“It comes down to little moments,” Wheddon said. “We’ve made mistakes at crucial times during games and that’s really hurt us. We’ve got to be more ruthless and selfish at the goal throughout the game not just early on.”

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Sam Ogozalek | Staff Writer

In the second minute, Eva Gordon sped past the UNC defense and received a pass right in front of the net. She fired a shot but UNC goalkeeper Lindsey Harris dove and prevented SU from taking an early lead. A minute later, Alana O’Neill received a cross in the box and volleyed the ball just over the crossbar.

Syracuse didn’t relinquish control of the ball as it passed with quick touches up and down the field.

Junior defender Jessica Vigna called the team’s performance in the first half “the best half of soccer we’ve played all year.”

“It was because of our energy,” Vigna said. “We were going into tackles hard. We played quick touches, switching fields, getting into spaces and behind them. We got a lot of chances early on because of that.”

But when UNC finally obtained possession, SU’s momentum halted. In the 13th minute, defender Maya Worth dashed down the sidelines and laid a perfect cross to Megan Buckingham, who beat Brosnan on the near post.

In the 37th minute, a Tar Heel player burst past junior Sheridan Street on the side. Street flailed her arms out at the attacker and nudged her from behind. Street was immediately subbed off and spoke with Wheddon on the sideline.

Despite captain Stephanie Skilton’s goal in the 45th minute to bring the Orange within one, Syracuse never seemed the same in the second half. From the 45th to the 63rd minutes, UNC outshot Syracuse 6-1 and scored another goal.

“We just switched off in the second half,” Vigna said. “If you do that against a team like UNC, they’re gonna capitalize.”

The Orange fired only three shots in the second half compared to seven in the first. UNC outshot SU 15-10 on the day.

In SU’s three-game ACC road trip from Sept. 22 to Oct. 2, the Orange failed to score a single goal and was outscored 10-0. The season took a turn for the worse, a time Wheddon called “the most important part of the season.”

“It’s very tough,” Skilton said. “But we tend to come out really well in the first half then we get relaxed in the second and the game gets away from us. We need to work on that if we’re going to go far.”

But Syracuse won’t have that chance this year.

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