Syracuse Likes To Mix Up the Game Plan

Thursday, Feb 25, 2021 at 5:07 pm by Sports Editor

By Jared Johnston

CitrusTV’s Men’s Soccer Beat Reporter

At face value, a 1-4-3 record is not at all impressive, but there are more traits of head coach Ian McIntyre’s squad that need to be looked at. If men’s soccer has one thing going for them right now with such a young squad, it has to be their adaptability. This season is much of a learning curve for future core pieces like DeAndre Kerr among 11 freshmen on the roster, and there were three main games this season that showcased how flexible SU’s players are in different systems through the growing pains.

From a tactical standpoint, McIntyre has favored a traditional 4-4-2, one of the foundational formations in soccer. Along with that, the team has employed counter pressing on the flanks to overload possessions to win the ball for a counterattack. That starts with the movement from the front two forwards to pressure the ball high up the field to make the opponent uncomfortable. From there the ball is funneled to the outside fullbacks that then meet the challenge of the organized overload in outside zonal areas.

In games against Pittsburgh, Louisville, and Virginia Tech during the fall portion of the season, the Orange used many different techniques to match up against high quality sides.

On October 6th Pitt was ranked #2, and Cuse tied up the contest late to force extra time but lost 3-2. One main takeaway from the match was that SU lined up with a 4-5-1 against Pitt’s 4-5-1. While deviating from their normal philosophy, the Orange were able match up their midfielders against Pitt’s on defense by collapsing the outside midfielders next to the holding midfielders with support from Triantafillou in a traditional #10 role. This played a huge role in preventing much of Pitt’s ability to create chances in the final third.

Against Louisville only 10 days later, McIntyre reverted back to the 4-4-2 with a new offensive tactic. This helped SU score the first two goals of the game but ultimately fall to a 2-2 draw. Outside back Noah Singelmann was instructed to push up with the midfield line to supplement the attack as a weak side option. This meant that the Orange played with 3 in the back out of possession, which saw Singelmann overload the wings and catalyze Cuse’s central offensive piece, DeAndre Kerr, who scored both goals for Syracuse.

Lastly against Virginia Tech on October 24th, McIntyre continued to instill the 4-4-2 formation on his group, but with a unique twist. Cuse’s fullbacks contributed the only goal in a 1-1 tie with the goal from Norheim and the assist from Singelmann, but the result stemmed from their defensive input. Both full backs played extremely high up the pitch out of possession, with Norheim on the right side sometimes pressuring the Hokies’ outside midfielders in their own defensive third. The press coached by the gaffer had SU spread out vulnerably with man to man marking, but Tech rarely beat the press because of the disciplined work of experienced outside backs like Singelmann and Norheim.

In summary, Cuse is a well-coached team by Ian McIntyre in his 11th season with the program, but it’s been tough for the team to earn results this season. All of their matches have been lost or won by one goal margins, or tied. In the end, there’s no postseason comeback that’s possible with their current record. For the last 8 matches on the schedule, with 6 of them against ACC opponents, SU’s greatest strength is their willingness to stick to a tactical system and use it to their advantage, a trait that should serve them well in the games to come.

The Orange face Vermont in Albany this coming Monday at 1:30 PM. Stay tuned to my Twitter handle linked below for live updates throughout the contest. | @jaredjohnstontv