Beat writers predict close game for Syracuse against No. 10 North Carolina

first_img Published on February 20, 2018 at 4:21 pm Syracuse (18-9, 7-7 Atlantic Coast) hosts No. 10 North Carolina (21-7, 10-5) on Wednesday night in the Carrier Dome. Syracuse enters the game following its 62-55 win at Miami. UNC has won each of its last five contests prior to the meeting in the Dome. Prior to Wednesday’s game Syracuse is without a win against a Top-10 opponent thus far this season, a feat it has accomplished each season since the 2004-05 season.Here is how our beat writers think the game plays out.Matthew Gutierrez (22-5)Sweet CarolineNorth Carolina 71, Syracuse 61Make no mistake: Syracuse could pull off the upset at home, which would go a long way toward fighting into the bracket. But the Tar Heels are rolling, coming off consecutive wins over Duke, North Carolina State, Notre Dame and Louisville (by 17). They are shooting the ball well, rebounding and playing scrappy defense. They can run with their bigs and crash glass, or they can go small and utilize the fast break to speed up the game. That’s potent. And it’s worth noting that all five of their starters are veterans with solid experience, either juniors or seniors.Sam Fortier (19-8)Carolina bluesNorth Carolina 79, Syracuse 74AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe most fun part of this matchup will be UNC’s offense against Syracuse’s defense. Two of the best units in the country square off in a game that would be huge for the Orange to win but one it won’t be able to. SU won’t pull the upset because the Tar Heels are reloaded with another crop of thick, 6-foot-6 to 6-foot-8 athletic guys who can crash the offensive glass, where UNC ranks second this season in rebounding rate (38.9), per Kenpom.com. Roy Williams’ squad beefing up inside is as predictable as the 2-3 zone, and just the same as Boeheim’s signature scheme, it’s easier to talk about than to solve. In further intimidating optimistic Orange fans, Boeheim recently praised the Tar Heels’ size and aggression on the offensive boards. “They’re playing as well right now as they’ve played all year,” Boeheim said of UNC. OK, that’s good enough. I’m taking Carolina.Tomer Langer (18-9)Welcome to the ShowNorth Carolina 82, Syracuse 70This Orange team over the last few months has been tough to figure out. It dropped a game at Georgia Tech, a bottom-four team in the ACC, but then came back to win at Louisville. It struggled to put away a weak Wake Forest team in a win, dropped a game on its home floor to North Carolina State — a team that is ranked very closely to Syracuse per Kenpom — then it goes and beats a higher-rated Miami team on the road. So, anything is possible in this game. But UNC is part of a higher tier than any of those other teams and might be the hottest team in the country right now. Its bevy of scoring options is legit, and N.C. State already proved that a fantastic offense can find holes against the Orange’s typically solid defense. Syracuse’s defense is solid, but this feels like one of those games that even if SU does manage to get stops, UNC will end up with some second opportunities. Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Commentslast_img read more


Meghan Root guides Syracuse to 1st ACC win since 2017 in 2-1 win over Wake Forest

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Georgia Allen took off down the left sideline. The volume of the home crowd rose with her every stride. Her angle on net would be difficult, but that didn’t matter — it was a chance toward the net. Allen ripped a low shot with her left foot toward the back post and Wake Forest goalkeeper Meghan Kennedy deflected it. The ball rolled toward Meghan Root, whose shot was blocked as well. Then, it trickled out to defender Clarke Brown, who sent another shot toward the keeper. But unlike so many similar situations the past two years, the ball kept finding Orange jerseys. This wasn’t the team who hadn’t recorded a shot in two separate games over the last two seasons. Or the one who hadn’t won a conference game in 729 consecutive days. Root slid and got the slightest touch on a shot right. The ball rolled to Kennedy, giving Root time to rise from her knees — just to go right back down to the turf. Shot after shot had come Kennedy’s way in that sequence. But that one slipped past the Wake Forest goalie.Syracuse (3-7-2, 1-3-1 Atlantic Coast) ended its nearly two-year long streak, handing Wake Forest (5-5-3, 0-3-2) a 2-1 loss at SU Soccer Stadium Thursday night. Root matched her goal total from last season in nearly 99 minutes of action, giving the Orange an equalizer in the waning minutes of regulation and scoring the game-winner 15 minutes later. And Syracuse, a team who ended the 2018 season on a 13-game losing streak, ensured that wouldn’t happen again under first-year head coach Nicky Adams.“We were pushing for three points,” Root said. “It wasn’t like ‘Let’s just settle for a tie, get a result and not get scored on.’”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThat game plan throughout Thursday’s game was simple: be aggressive. The Orange committed two fouls early, each time being late challenges from behind caused by being overly aggressive on the ball — a stark contrast from the recent defensive style of play. From the sideline, Adams and assistant coach Kelly Madsen continually urged SU to move without the ball and push the tempo. Senior Sydney Brackett, playing in her first match since Sept. 12, created some of the best scoring chances in the first-half through her own runs, but none of her shots could find the target. SU’s lone shot on goal of the first half was a free kick taken from 30 yards out by Allen that floated harmlessly into the goalkeeper’s grasp. “From start to finish, I thought we were really trying to execute the game plan,” Adams said.Breaking the seal on Syracuse’s conference woes and month-long winless streak looked a lot tougher to achieve when, just over two minutes into the second half, the Demon Deacons scored off their first corner of the half. But unlike previous matches, the Orange didn’t begin to lose their shape behind. The days of “Aw shoot, here we go again” ended last year, Root said. And it showed, when SU started to create the chances it couldn’t find early. True to her word, Root almost netted an equalizer four minutes later. Redshirt freshman Marisa Fischetti slid a ball past the keeper and across the mouth of the open goal, but Root couldn’t redirect before it went out of play. Freshman Kailey Brenner had given up a pair of careless turnovers without much pressure. But then, with 20 minutes of play, the Orange attack started to move toward the corner flag. Brenner initiated the movement with a long run down the near sideline that didn’t award the Orange a corner but pinned the Demon Deacons deep in the defensive end. Two minutes later, Syracuse won its first corner of the match. Then, it got another 30 seconds later. And another eight minutes after that. With each set piece, more home fans seemed to stamp their feet on the bleachers.“We have a brilliant support system here,” Allen said afterward. “Every time we win a corner our bench and our support system are pushing us on.”In the 84th minute, Syracuse would finally get its breakthrough. A cross played in from the far sideline by Brenner glanced off the head of defender Taylor and, much like the game-winner, right to the feet of Root. “It just fell there and I just focused on keeping it low and on target and it went in,” Root said, “So, that’s good.”The Syracuse fans roared, and maintained that intensity through the second-half whistle. Syracuse rode its momentum into the first sudden-death overtime period, and four minutes later, the 99th-minute, four-shot sequence ended in Root’s second goal. As Wake Forest defenders sprawled out on the pitch, the entire Orange roster — injured or not — mobbed Root in the six-yard box. Parents were jumping and hugging. Members of the SU men’s soccer team began chanting, “Ole.” Adams remained on the sideline, soaking in the pandemonium. “We’re trying to change the brand image of this program,” Adams said. “And if anybody’s watching how hard this team is fighting, it’s going to be exciting for the future of Syracuse.”  Comments Published on October 11, 2019 at 12:32 am Contact Tim: tnolan@syr.edulast_img read more