MSOC : Syracuse defense remains strong until final minute in loss to Villanova

first_img Published on October 26, 2011 at 12:00 pm Contact Chris: [email protected] | @chris_iseman Nick Bibbs sat on the turf about 35 yards away from the goal with his arms folded across his knees, staring toward the net where his team had just been dealt another crushing loss. After helping to lead a defense that held Villanova scoreless for more than 109 minutes, he couldn’t comprehend how it ended in another fruitless result.And it didn’t make it easier that the team that delivered the blow was his hometown team. The one the Syracuse defender would’ve loved to have beaten.‘It kind of hurts,’ Bibbs said. ‘You play so well for a full however long, and you let up a goal with 40 seconds left, it hurts. It really does. Especially with a team from my hometown, I live five minutes away, it just doesn’t feel good.’Syracuse (3-11-1, 1-6-1 Big East) knew Villanova was going to come in and try to beat the Orange with its physicality, calling for SU to increase its intensity. And it did that for almost the entire game before falling 1-0 in double overtime to the Wildcats (6-7-4, 3-4-1 Big East) Wednesday night. As a result, SU’s hopes for the postseason are complicated, and Saturday’s game against DePaul becomes essentially a play-in game for the Big East tournament.The goal that spelled disaster for Syracuse could have been avoided. But with all of its scorers pushed up in its offensive end of the field in the final minute of the second overtime, Villanova had a perfect chance for a fast break goal. Orange goalkeeper Phil Boerger ran out of the cage to try to cut off Matt Margiotta’s angle during the counterattack, but it was to no avail. Margiotta cut left and had a wide open net to put home the only goal of the game.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAnd until Villanova’s game-winning goal, which came with the Orange going full throttle for a win instead of playing for what would be a useless tie, SU’s defense shined. It shoved the Wildcats’ scorers, it slid all over the field to knock the ball away and had no hesitation taking down Villanova attackers to halt possible scoring opportunities.The Orange’s defensive unit wreaked havoc on the Wildcats from the start, just as the game plan dictated.‘Coming in, (Syracuse head coach Ian McIntyre) told us they’re a physical team, so we need to match their intensity,’ Bibbs said. ‘We did. Our backline is feisty, real physical back four. Teams struggle when they’re up top. Their strikers struggle. That’s what we want to do, be physical.’In the 71st minute, Bibbs chased Villanova forward Dylan Renna down the right sideline in what looked like a perfect scoring opportunity. But as Renna approached the box, Bibbs went to slide down and knock the ball out from in front of him. In his attempt to make the stop, he managed to get Renna to try and fight him off, inducing a tripping foul and earning a free kick for the Orange.Syracuse goalkeeper Phil Boerger said it was an overall willingness from the entire team to defend at its best. And what made the defensive stops even more impressive from previous games was that Villanova had nearly no open scoring chances in its set plays. Boerger said that aspect of Syracuse’s defense had been lacking, forcing an increase in attention to defending to those plays and specific players last week in practice.As the season has progressed, the communication between the young back four improved with seemingly every game, and that was no different Wednesday night.Still, Boerger couldn’t shake the frustration. After such a strong performance from the defense, it was just another unlucky loss.‘The communication, we were spot on tonight,’ Boerger said. ‘Whatever it is, we did well with it. We defended very well in set pieces. In the past few games, we had given up goals in set pieces, so we worked on that in training.’McIntyre stood outside his team’s locker room after the game, looking and sounding less frustrated than he had been after some of Syracuse’s previous losses. He said he wasn’t fazed that a team managed to score with just 44 seconds left.His defense had been simply too good for him to take the loss as a complete failure.‘Yes, we like to keep clean sheets, but I’ll take that as a clean sheet for the guys,’ McIntyre said. ‘We were very good, and a team catching us with however many seconds there were left doesn’t detract away from the 109 minutes where we were very solid tonight.’‘ … It would’ve been good value for some points tonight. But it’s not to be.’[email protected] Commentscenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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