Men’s soccer picked up their first ACC win of the season in a 1-0 nail-biter against Syracuse Friday night on Newton. The Eagles remain undefeated at home thanks to late-game heroics by Kristofer Konradsson and goalkeeper Brennan Klein’s second career shutout. The ACC win returned the Eagles to .500 on the season.
Konradsson picked the 84th minute of the stalemate to score his first goal of the season. Sprinting down right field, he cut left, dribbling towards the top of the 18-yard box. Aware of the two defenders closing in, Konradsson touched the ball from his right foot to his left and fired off a shot towards the lower right corner. Syracuse goalkeeper Russell Shealy dove to make the stop, but the ball bounced just under his hand and into the back of the net to give Konradsson the game-winner.
With six minutes to go, Syracuse had their best chance of the night on a free kick outside the Eagles box. Designated free kick-taker Curt Calov took the kick, sending the ball curling around the wall and into the outside, side-netting as the crowd let out a sigh of relief. Eagles keeper Klein did not see the ball until after it rippled the side-netting.
The game was a defensive gem from both sides. Only five shots on goal were recorded between the two teams. The first half was even tighter, with each team only getting off a single shot. Top Syracuse forward Deandre Kerr, with eight goals on the season, was kept off the stats sheet till the 89th minute when he committed a foul.
Moritz Frahm, comfortable in the midfield after a midseason adjustment from playing back, generated the best chance of the first half for the Eagles. Gaining possession in the midfield, Frahm seized the space Syracuse gave him, driving down the field and firing off a shot. Yet, it went wide.
Confident and deceptively agile goalkeeper Klein recorded his first shutout win with a strong aerial performance. The shutout was the second of his career, having kept a clean sheet in the 0-0 tie against ranked-opponent Virginia Tech.
Klein has also proven able to handle himself in the air. Early in the first half, Klein made a perfectly timed jump to stop a Syracuse chance from developing. In the 70th minute, Syracuse was granted a free kick just inside the 18-yard box. Calov took the kick, curling it around the Eagle’s wall, but Klein, rising out of nowhere and seemingly suspended in air, grabbed the ball to prevent the goal.
The Eagles continued to struggle with set pieces, giving up eleven corner kicks including five in the first half.
On their own set pieces, the Eagles struggled to clear the ball over the opponent’s wall. Stefan Sigurdarson earned a free kick outside of the box after being pulled down by Amferny Sinclair. Konradsson took the kick but blasted the ball off the Syracuse wall and no Eagle could create a second chance as time expired.
Playing the possession game, the Eagles continued to build from the back, passing back if an open passing or shooting lane was not immediately available. The midfield drove the play, with Frahm, Jonathan Murphey, and Konradsson collecting loose balls and attempting crosses. Murphey especially caused problems on the left side, speeding by Syracuse defenders to feed Eagles’ runners crashing the box.
The Eagles (5-5-2) play Merrimack in a non-conference game on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in North Andover. The break in ACC play allows the Eagles a breather and a chance to build momentum away from their home turf.
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