Men's Soccer

Syracuse advances in ACC tournament with 2-0 win over N.C. State

David Salanitri | Staff Photographer

Chris Nanco celebrates after scoring Syracuse's second goal on Wednesday night. The Orange advanced to the ACC tournament quarterfinals with a 2-0 win over N.C. State.

Kamal Miller skipped into a group of teammates around Chris Nanco and Julian Buescher climbed on top of the pile.

Nanco had just curved a pass from Kenny Lassiter toward the top right corner of the net that eluded North Carolina State goalie Alex McCauley’s hand, solidifying a first-round win in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament for Syracuse.

“I’ve come close to scoring a lot of goals this year,” Nanco said, “and I just haven’t executed that final finish.”

The Orange (11-5-2, 3-4-1 ACC) beat the Wolfpack (8-6-3, 1-4-3), 2-0, on Tuesday night at SU Soccer Stadium to advance to the tournament quarterfinals at North Carolina on Sunday at 1 p.m. Nanco’s goal bolstered SU’s 1-0 lead, broke his six-game scoreless streak and put the game away after a Buescher free kick gave the Orange an earlier advantage.

Nanco had several chances to put SU up 2-0 and tied Buescher for the team lead in shots with three. In two of SU’s five losses and both of its ties, the Orange played with the lead, but lost it, including games against North Carolina, Wake Forest, Louisville and Hartford.

“Sometimes you get a little bit nervous holding a lead,” McIntyre said, “So it was important getting that second goal.”

After waiting 74 minutes and two Wolfpack goals to scratch out a goal of its own the last time the two teams met, it took just 11 minutes for SU to find the back of the net Tuesday night.

Buescher lined up about 25 yards from the goal with Liam Callahan about 2 yards to the right of the ball. A wall formed directly in front of Buescher and a few defenders flanked the wall to the left. The midfielder surveyed the options around him, instead blasting a low shot that ricocheted through the wall and barely found the bottom left corner of the net.

“(McCauley) was leaning the whole time to the other side, so I felt like he was cheating a little bit. So I tried to put it in the corner,” Buescher said. “I got a little bit lucky that it went in, but I’ll take it.”

Fifty-eight minutes were wedged between SU’s first goal and its last. The Orange, particularly Nanco, had searched for the Orange’s second goal of the match.

Nanco split two defenders and received a pass from Buescher about four minutes after the midfielder’s goal. An N.C. State defender bodied Nanco as he tried to maneuver into the box and the ball skidded to McCauley from his foot.

Buescher slid a pass to a streaking Noah Rhynhart down the right side of the field with less than five minutes left in the half. The forward ripped a low cross to Nanco, who jumped and kicked the cross out of the air. The ball rose, lifting over the crossbar and skimming it. McIntyre spun around and Nanco put his hands on his head and looked to the sky.

But with about 20 minutes left in the game, Nanco corralled a pass from Lassiter, who had stumbled and ran over an N.C. State defender, and bent in the shot that closed the game.

A week in a half earlier, McCauley had stretched out to nab a nearly identical shot from Nanco even further into the top right corner.

Nanco opened his arms wide as his teammates chased him down. As he was subbed off the field four minutes after his goal, the crowd greeted him with an ovation.

The celebration was a far cry from the frenzy that took place with the whole bench emptying around goal scorers and Louis Cross being serenaded the last time SU played N.C. State.

But this time, Nanco’s goal helped guarantee SU another game.

“We would’ve liked to have gotten that second goal before the half,” McIntyre said. “So Chris’ goal was an important one.”

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