Syracuse receives 1st round bye in NCAA Tournament

first_imgTen minutes before the NCAA Tournament selection show aired, Hugo Delhommelle strolled into the air-conditioned film room in the back of the Manley Field House facility in a block Syracuse zipped sweatshirt, gazed around the empty room and stopped.“Where is everyone?” Delhommelle asked to the SU Athletics employees that manned the desktop computer where the video was streamed.“You’re the first one,” they replied.SU players followed all adorned with smiles and some held pre-practice fruit and chocolate milk. SU’s points leader Tajon Buchanan munched apple slices as SU head coach Ian McIntyre walked down the line of SU players in the third row from the screen and shook each players’ hand. He joked with Ryan Raposo and poked fun at his jeans, noting that his daughter was “concerned” when he saw him wearing the same pair a few nights earlier. Moments before the Orange learned its fate, everything was relaxed.Syracuse (7-6-4, 1-4-3 Atlantic Coast) qualified for the NCAA Tournament and received a first-round bye. The Orange will play 2 p.m. Sunday — much to the surprise of SU players and coaches — against the winner of Akron and Rider’s first-round game Thursday.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text Facebook Twitter Google+ Comments “Very surprised that we showed up so fast, but honored and humbled,” SU senior goalkeeper Hendrik Hilpert said. “But at the same time, this team is too good to be satisfied already. There is a lot of potential left in us.”Coming into the selection, Syracuse was unsure of its status. There were questions of seeding. Would they be home or away? McIntyre wondered how heavily the committee would weigh the Orange’s schedule, which Delhommelle said is “one of the toughest in the country.”The Orange came into 2018 following a season where it won no ACC games. With a 2-1 record going into its first ACC matchup with then-No. 12 Notre Dame, the Orange dropped its first ACC game of the season — the first loss of a 1-3-1 stretch for Syracuse.Across the next four games, Syracuse handled Cornell on the road but went winless in its next three matchups. A physical Virginia team kept the Orange off the conference scorecard another day and Syracuse failed to execute in a 1-1 tie to inferior Colgate. The script of the season felt all too familiar for Delhommelle, who came to the Orange last season as a transfer from Lander.Delhommelle said Syracuse was good in 2017, but in the moments that counted, the team succumbed to its own youth and inexperience. Playing in the ACC is “brutal,” McIntyre said. Nine Atlantic Coast teams qualified for the tournament, the most of any conference.“It’s grueling,” McIntyre said, “but it will prepare us for the challenges ahead.”Prior to the selection, Delhommelle said SU laid out the possibilities. Brooklyn, Rider and Colgate were all teams that could have been their potential matchup. When Akron and Rider popped on the board, much of the SU players, coaches and officials in the room slumped their backs slightly. The Orange had just come off a loss to Virginia Tech in the first round of the ACC Tournament, the end of a four-game winless skid for SU.Ally Walsh | Staff PhotographerIn a road matchup with Virginia Tech earlier in the season, Syracuse played the Hokies to two overtimes. With less than two minutes remaining in the game, the Hokies’ Nico Quashie scored a goal from point-blank range. After that, Syracuse looked to make a change.“We just decided we were done with this losing sh*t,” SU senior Jonathan Hagman said on Oct. 29.Syracuse ripped off three-straight wins. It went to Akron and dominated. It came back to play the No. 1 Demon Deacons at SU Soccer stadium and, again, dominated. A three-goal shutout win over Ohio State and two quick first-half goals against then-No. 22 Louisville cemented the Orange as a force within the ACC. In its buffer game between three-straight conference games to end the season, the Orange poured in seven goals on the Bonnies in another shutout win. Despite a winless stretch to end the season, Syracuse remained steady in the rating percentage index— they finished the year ranked 18th.Ally Walsh | Staff PhotographerSU players and coaches stopped short of thinking ahead at a potential matchup with Akron, where the Orange started its streak earlier in the season. The Orange would focus on its practice schedule ahead, starting Tuesday, when two large white vans arrive at Manley at 2:30 p.m. to bring the Orange to Skytop Field to start its preparation for whoever their opponent may be. Hilpert said the possibility of a rematch with Akron was “ironic,” and it can only give the Orange confidence. McIntyre hadn’t even thought of it.Many on SU joked back and forth prior to the start of the show, Syracuse players remained confident. They weren’t sure a bye was in their future. Hilpert said they really didn’t talk about it. But they knew they were in. Less than a minute after the first part of the bracket graced the screen in the film room, SU players erupted in cheers.A silence overtook the room as the rest of the bracket continued and McIntyre slapped his hands on the table out in front of him, rising slowly from his chair.“Alright, we’re done,” he joked. “Let’s go.”“Thanks for coming.” Published on November 12, 2018 at 1:06 pm Contact Michael: [email protected] | @MikeJMcClearylast_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *