Syracuse Men’s Soccer Faces Defensive Challenges in Post-Championship Season

Monday, Oct 02, 2023 at 11:55 am by Sports Editor

By: Adam Gotkin | @adam_gotkin

After capturing the national title last year, the Syracuse Men’s Soccer program has undergone significant changes, particularly on the defensive front. The transformation has been evident in their recent matches, including a challenging encounter against Duke where they fell 5-3. The Orange have switched up a lot tactically. This season, Ian McIntyre has played with four in the back multiple times instead of three. 

One glaring issue is the notable turnover in the defensive lineup. Of the defenders who started in the national championship game against Indiana, only a few have been healthy all of the fall. However, head coach Ian McIntyre’s decision to rotate defenders like Oyegunle and Pablo Pedrogosa based on matchups reflects the team’s depth and adaptability.

Injuries have played a role in the defensive challenges. Noah Singlemann, a key contributor to the 2022 national title run, was sidelined to start the season, further straining the defensive unit. On a positive note, Buster Sjoberg, who returned from injury, has added depth to the defense. Gavin Wigg, a senior who saw limited action last season, has stepped up admirably in the absence of key players. Wigg scored a big goal vs. Pitt and has been the biggest surprise on the team this season. 

One major change came in the goalkeeper position, as Russell Shealy departed after a successful tenure. Coach McIntyre turned to the transfer portal and brought in Jason Smith, a highly-regarded amateur goalkeeper. Smith, previously with Utah Valley and recognized as one of the top goalies in the WAC, has made an immediate impact with his exceptional skills and experience.

Smith has been really solid so far, but some of his mistakes have been very costly. Against Penn State, Smith was sent off for a dangerous tackle. SU went down to 10 men and conceded a goal. 

In the Duke game, both of the Blue Devils’ first two goals came from Jason Smith’s mistakes. One of the biggest traits about being a goalkeeper though is having a short memory. That’s what Smith will have to do as the ‘Cuse are back in action tomorrow against Colgate.