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Syracuse defense successful in test against No. 23 Louisville

first_img Published on September 12, 2015 at 12:12 am Contact Connor: [email protected] | @connorgrossman Facebook Twitter Google+ In the waning minutes of the second overtime period, freshman defender Kamal Miller blocked off a Louisville forward and blindly heeled the ball to Liam Callahan.Callahan cleared it to Louisville’s territory, and Miller jogged back to survey the Cardinals’ forwards still around him. Another potential offensive opportunity thwarted by a young Syracuse defender.It was a theme throughout the 110-minute, double overtime match as SU’s inexperienced defense, featuring three first-year starters, allowed the Cardinals one shot between the posts.“It was good to test ourselves against a top ACC opponent,” junior defender Louis Cross said. “We were really solid, especially with Kamal (Miller) and Miles (Robinson) being freshmen in their first ACC game.”The youthful defenders kept pace with a unique, interchanging four-man Louisville attack unit that had accumulated 14 shots on goal in its last two matches combined. Syracuse (3-1-1, 0-0-1 Atlantic Coast) neutralized the No. 23 Cardinals (3-1-1, 0-0-1) when it needed to and tied 1-1 at SU Soccer Stadium Friday night in front of 2,237.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textFor much of the early season it’s been Cross, and two freshmen in Robinson and Miller manning the back line. With only five goals allowed in five games, the trio has made it easy to forget that Syracuse lost its starting defense from last season.“Our guys will be a better team because of tonight,” SU head coach Ian McIntyre said. “I thought we did a good job nullifying a lot of their threats.“Syracuse had to adapt to Louisville’s aggressive, four-man offensive front. Midfielder Liam Callahan started in a left back position Friday night, and said the team’s game plan was to “pinch” him and Robinson on the Cardinals’ outside forwards.The strategy paid dividends minutes after Syracuse opened up an early lead. Louisville midfielder Ben Strong tried to get past Robinson and cut toward the middle of the box, but the ball got caught on the SU defender’s foot as Strong continued forward.The ensuing defensive chance for SU was another Robinson interception and clear by Cross.“We were very aggressive with the defenders,” Cross said. “If the ball was coming to attackers we were straight onto the attackers and we didn’t allow them to turn and run off a goal.”Freshman goalkeeper Austin Aviza didn’t register a save, but demonstratively pointed out defensive gaps as Louisville advanced the ball throughout the game.Aviza’s best save came when laying out to snag a ball that ricocheted off the post and was nearly out of the box entirely. Syracuse was exposed in that moment late in the second half, but capitalized on their freshman’s calculated risk.“The hardest part of being goalkeeper is just organizing the team,” Aviza said. “Games like these you have to stay focused.”In a game punctuated by five yellow cards and overbearing physicality, Syracuse didn’t back down. Cross credited the entire team that contributed on defense, not just the four starters, for remaining compact and composed on the ball.It showed in the game’s most contentious moments, and SU didn’t allow one shot in the final 33 minutes of a tied match.Said Cross: “The defense as a whole, I think we acted like leaders tonight.” Commentslast_img

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