Kamal Miller and Hugo Delhommelle step up to take Syracuse’s penalty kicks

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first_imgSyracuse’s Mamadou Balde charged toward the goal before being taken down inside the box, drawing the Orange’s second penalty kick of the season. When the referee blew his whistle, junior defender Kamal Miller jogged past head coach Ian McIntyre and most of his teammates, including Hugo Delhommelle, to the penalty spot.Miller stopped in the middle of box, took the ball and placed it on the ground with the white Nike swoosh facing away from the goalkeeper, the way he always does. With a stutter step and a well-struck kick with his natural left foot, Miller beat the keeper and SU took the lead in an eventual 3-2 win over Oregon State on Sept. 12.A week later, McIntyre said he didn’t assign a particular player to the shot. He admitted that he is mostly just a spectator, waiting for a player to take charge.“I had nothing to do with (the decisions),” McIntyre said. “Sometimes, there’s a little bit of over-coaching, the guys took responsibility. He stepped up, he took it, he scored.”Through eight games, No. 11 SU (4-2-2, 0-1-1 Atlantic Coast) has converted on both of its penalty attempts: Miller with the go-ahead goal against Oregon State and Delhommelle the first goal in an eventual 2-2 draw against Virginia four days prior. Both players have been tabbed as the go-to penalty kick takers, not by the coaching staff, but by themselves.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“I think it’s a good thing to be able to share,” McIntyre said. “It becomes more difficult for an opponent to know who’s going to step up.”Penalty kicks have cost SU over the last two seasons. In 2015, the Orange’s College Cup run came to an end after a shootout loss to Clemson. Last year, Syracuse fell again to the Tigers in the ACC tournament quarterfinals.In a meeting before this season, McIntyre spoke in front of his team. He asked which player was interested in taking penalty kicks and, immediately, Miller and Delhommelle shot their hands up. After some training sessions, both agreed to share the responsibility. The pair decide during games who is going to take a potential kick. That decision, Miller said, comes down to whoever feels poised and more focused.“(McIntyre) likes the confidence that both of us bring,” Miller said. “He said we can work it out on the field.”That confidence grows when he connects on both short passes and looping lead passes through the air. The idea behind it is, if either can put their passes wherever they please, a penalty kick shouldn’t be as difficult. Whoever gets that “sweet” feeling on the ball will take charge when the penalty kick comes.When Miller takes a penalty kick, he looks to place the ball at a position that makes the goalkeeper uncomfortable. That usually means either shooting it low near the posts or high and out of reach. Placing the ball at mid-height, Miller said, simulates a normal shot that occurs throughout the course of the game and makes it easier to save.“I would take a quick look at the goalkeeper’s tendencies” Miller said. “If he got scored on to a certain side, maybe that’s not his strongest.”On Sept. 13 against then-No. 11 Virginia, Miller readied himself for a penalty kick. But before he could stand over the ball, Delhommelle walked over to him and claimed the opportunity for himself. In a scoreless game on the road, the native of France lined up to the left of the ball. He short-chopped his steps, hesitated, and beat UVA’s Jeff Caldwell with a sharp kick to right post. After scoring, the junior transfer stroked his beard and swung his arms back and forth before being mobbed by white jerseys.“If they are feeling confident and they want the ball,” McIntyre said, “that’s a good start. If they have that force of personality, it’s almost like an arrogance of saying, ‘I’m going to score this.’” Comments Published on September 20, 2017 at 9:26 pm Contact Nick: [email protected] | @nick_a_alvarez Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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