Syracuse Gets Ready for its Season Opener (Again)

Photo taken by Michael J. Okoniewski. © Syracuse Athletics.
Monday, Oct 05, 2020 at 1:41 pm by Sports Editor

By Noah Cierzan

CitrusTV’s Men’s Soccer Beat Reporter

Syracuse was making its final preparations for an exhibition match against Virginia, and the new-look Orange would finally have an opportunity to showcase all the hard work put in during the offseason. That was before a positive COVID-19 test shut down the program for two weeks, during which the team was not allowed to gather.

SU now has the unique task of preparing for its season opener coming off remote workouts against a very talented Pitt squad. “Probably not the way I would have wrote it for the first game of the season,” said Head Coach Ian McIntyre.

But McIntyre did not wish to dwell on the situation his team has been put in during his press conference on Friday. Although the positive case puts the completely overhauled Orange roster in a tough spot, it is also a familiar one.

Syracuse conducted remote Zoom workouts all summer, which picked back up again while the team was quarantined. “[Trainer] Corey Parker did a great job of engaging the guys,” said McIntyre. Coach Mac also mentioned that the team had remote trivia nights and ice cream parties over the past couple of weeks. “Is that 101 coaching in preparation for an ACC opener? Perhaps not, but that’s the 2020 version,” said McIntyre.

According to McIntyre, the whole team has tested negative and in-person workouts have resumed. That includes the player that originally tested positive, although it is unclear at this time whether or not that player will be available to play Tuesday.

With game cancellations behind the Orange, it’s time for Coach Mac to turn his attention towards preparing for Tuesday’s match. A big question going into the season opener is whether or not McIntyre is planning on employing his preferred 3-5-2 formation. McIntyre made it clear he’s going to play to the strengths of his personnel.

“If I’m a coach, and I have the best quarterback in the league, but my philosophy is to run the football I’m an idiot. Right, because you have to put the ball in the hands of your quarterback,” said McIntyre.

SU’s proverbial “quarterback” is still an unknown on this team. While this may be something that takes a couple of games to figure out, McIntyre is hoping that the program’s culture will carry the team forward. “Our DNA will be the same, us being brave and aggressive,” said McIntyre.

The idea of rolling out a squad that contains 14 new players under such abnormal circumstances may seem daunting, especially against a team as talented as Pitt. But Syracuse has not played since March, and at the end of the day, it’s clear the team is just grateful to be able to play the game they love once again.

“Right now, there’s probably about another 170, 180 programs that would love to be in our situation right now of having a chance to compete,” said McIntyre. “Our guys are chomping at the bit to have a chance to get out and compete.” | @ncierzan