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    Clemson falls to Syracuse for first loss of season

    Aralynn Minnick, Asst. Photo Editor

    Clemson midfielder Tristan Deloach dribbles the ball against Indiana at Historic Riggs Field on Aug. 26, 2022. 

    An early goal from Isaiah Reid was not enough to propel the Tigers to a victory, as the No.1-ranked Clemson men’s soccer team suffered its first defeat of the season, losing 2-1 to No. 16 Syracuse on Friday.
    Clemson opened the scoring in the eighth minute of the match. Off of an interception from Clemson midfielder Elton Chifamba, captain Alvaro Gomez was able to find freshman fullback Shawn Smart out wide.
    Smart’s low cross found the feet of Isaiah Reid, who was able to score with his first touch. 
    A defensive miscue just 10 minutes later put Syracuse back level.
    Goalkeeper Trevor Mannion’s miscalculation left two Clemson defenders scrambling to defend an open goal.
    The breakdown in defensive organization and lack of communication resulted in a Tiger clearance ricocheting off of multiple defenders. The ball ended up at the feet of Syracuse’s Jeorgio Kocevski, who finished coolly. 
    Early in the second half, the Orange took the lead off of an inside-of-the-box strike from Levonte Johnson, and that was enough to hold the Tigers off until full time.
    Diop’s absence from the squad had a clear impact on the back line as multiple defensive miscues allowed Syracuse to counterattack effectively throughout the match, especially out wide.
    The Tigers came into their second ACC matchup of the year shorthanded.
    Midfielders Ousmane Sylla and Derek Waleffe were unavailable, while defender Hamady Diop continues to work his way back from an injury he sustained against USC Upstate.
    Clemson sorely missed Sylla, the ACC’s leading point-getter. Him and Waleffe provide an attacking creativity and shot-creating ability that the team struggled greatly with, especially during the first half as the Tigers produced just four shots to Syracuse’s 10.
    Noonan’s second half switch to a 4-3-3 formation allowed the Tigers to put much more offensive pressure on Syracuse. Forwards Isaiah Reid, Tim Ströbek, Mohamed Seye, and Tyler Triminal were all heavily involved in the second half, creating multiple promising chances, though none were able to finish them.
    Though the game resulted in a defeat for the Tigers, head coach Mike Noonan remains positive about the growth of his team and what is to come in the future.
    “I’m pleased with everybody,” he said. “This is a really fun team, it’s been fun to coach. Tonight there’s disappointment, and in the future there’s going to be smiles. We’re very proud of the team.”
    Noonan’s optimism was justified by the quality shown by multiple Tigers in Friday’s match.
    Chifamba asserted himself defensively, cutting out multiple Syracuse attacks early.
    Meanwhile, Reid’s distribution in the attack allowed Clemson to have some effective counterattacks of their own, and Gomez and Smart, the assistants on Reid’s goal, were two of the most creative players on the pitch. 
    Gomez was controlled the tempo of the midfield, and his forward runs and flick-on passing created two of the Tigers’ best opportunities. Smart’s twitchy intensity created dangerous chances throughout the first half, including his perfectly placed cross on Reid’s goal.
    Mannion also had a busy night. Though his choice to come out of his box played a part in Syracuse’s first goal, Mannion’s match was largely positive.
    He recorded a season-high seven saves, including two fantastic diving stops and another denial off of a well-hit free kick.
    Meanwhile, Smart sustained an injury during the second half, and was forced to exit the game. Noonan stated that the team is unsure of the severity of the injury.
    The Tigers will look to bounce back at home on Monday with a match against Presbyterian.

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