Syracuse defense rises to occasion, shuts down national goal-scoring leader Haber to beat Cornell in NCAA tournament opening round

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Related Stories Syracuse upsets Cornell to earn 1st NCAA tournament win in program historyGallery: Syracuse upsets Cornell 1-0 in 1st round of NCAA tournament ITHACA, N.Y. — Chris Makowski bounced back up to his feet with a grin on his face and a streak of dirt on his once-orange socks. The Syracuse back had deflected yet another shot from Daniel Haber with a last-minute slide that kept the ball away from the Orange’s goal.Haber – the nation’s leader in goals per game – never warmed up on a cold night for soccer. Makowski and the Syracuse back line stymied the heralded Cornell junior, limiting his offensive output to earn a narrow 1-0 victory over the No. 11 Big Red in the NCAA tournament’s opening round on Thursday night at Berman Field.Averaging over two points and one goal per game, Haber was the player Syracuse had to account for defensively. But he missed his desired target on each of his six shots, and more importantly, never truly threatened Syracuse’s lead.“To keep a prolific team like Cornell to such few chances on net was a collective effort,” SU head coach Ian McIntyre said. “It hasn’t been done this year, and it’s a big effort from out guys.”That effort started and ended with limiting Haber’s opportunities. Makowski provided tight defense, but he was rarely alone on his mark. And when he was beat off the ball, other defenders like Nick Bibbs and Tyler Hilliard shifted seamlessly over to strip the ball away.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textIn the 30th minute, Bibbs and Hilliard teamed up to negate Haber’s greatest asset: his speed. His attempt to accelerate down the right sideline was rebuffed by the freshman Hilliard, who poked the ball away just far enough for the back line to regroup.It did, and when Haber tried again to sprint to the corner for a cross, he met Hilliard and Bibbs there, was pressed up against the sideline, and lost possession.From goal, Alex Bono clapped furiously in approval after the tag-team tackle, happy that a short week of heavy preparation was enough to slow Haber down.“We knew going in that sometimes he takes 17 or 18 shots on his own,” Bono said. “We knew what he liked to do – as soon as he gets an opportunity a half-yard off a defender, he’s going to shoot.”But Bono and the Syracuse back line were ready for Haber’s right foot. Bono said the team practiced more scenarios involving clean shots ongoal, and that paid off for Syracuse immediately when the second half began.In the 46th minute, the Cornell forward poked the ball away from Jordan Murrell and regained possession inside SU’s 18-yard box. He was in point-blank range – the kind of range he had scored many of his 18 goals from this season.Once again, though, his shot was stopped by the joint efforts of a charging Bono and a sliding Makowski. And this time, Haber showed his frustration, placing both hands on his head as he turned his back to the goal he missed.He’d display that same irritated pose again when Makowski slowed him down just long enough for a charged Ted Cribley to steal the ball away from behind.“Ted had to roll his sleeves up on the defensive side tonight,” said McIntyre. “I thought he was exceptional.”The rest of the Syracuse defense was just as exceptional against the best goal scorer in the nation this season. Even Haber’s free kicks ricocheted off a wall of Syracuse defenders with eight minutes left in regulation.From that eight-minute mark to just under two minutes, Haber never touched the ball. He was resigned to wandering around midfield, hoping to find a breakaway opportunity that never came.“It’s difficult, it’s frustrating,” Haber said after the game. “Every team comes up with a different game plan, and they did everything they could to take away our strengths tonight.“We gave it our best shot – hats off to them for stopping it.” Commentscenter_img Published on November 16, 2012 at 12:11 am Contact Nick: [email protected] | @nicktoneytweetslast_img

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