Syracuse Men’s Soccer Just Needs Time
By Jared Johnston
CitrusTV Men’s Soccer Beat Reporter
The best teams in college soccer all have one thing in common: consistency. While Syracuse has not had that, three of the ACC’s best sit at the top ten of the NCAA Division One ranks. #1 Clemson closed out the fall season by winning the ACC tournament and have won six out of their last seven games. #5 Pitt started the season ranked second in the nation after posting 7 straight victories. Meanwhile #6 Wake Forest has started off their spring campaign securing 10 out of a possible 12 points. Whether it’s a 4-0 blowout, or a 1-0 battle, the best teams know how to get results.
The ‘Cuse has not been able to grind out results during this unpredictable season. This makes for an experimental year of losses to learn from for next season. Staying on the right track is something that Head Coach Ian McIntyre is something that comes with experience. That’s also something the Orange don’t have much of, with a plethora of freshman available on the team sheet.
The team has spent better portion of the season experimenting and helping players feel out the pace and physicality of college soccer. Now nearly 75% of the way through the season, the new players have found their stride.
A major point of focus for the bench boss was establishing the back line. Through trial and error of formations and tactics, the defense is now set up with a back three. McIntyre says that the evolution was only natural with the talent and potential at hand.
“Over the years we’ve played three at the back and made a transition from four as well. I think with Olu [Olegunye] coming and providing us that natural left-sided player, I think Sondre’s [Norheim] strength is playing as a centerback as well. I think he’s done a good job for us as a right back but we’re still just getting the balance.”
Soccer is often a game of inches; a game in which a team that anticipates a change in possession or is able to make the right tackle at the perfect time secures a win. SU is still trying to shore out the little mistakes they have made in games past. Previously in 3-1 defeats to first ranked Clemson and ACC foe Louisville, the Orange gave away lethal turnovers and conceded their chances at victory.
As McIntyre has said previously consistency takes time. In the Orange’s Saturday match against #15 North Carolina, the defensive organization was on point. Syracuse played with Simon Triantafillou and Hilli Goldhar as outside wing backs who supplemented a disciplined, steady effort.
“I thought [Simon] Triantafillou was excellent, I thought Hilli Goldhar had three different guys up against him during the game, it was terrific. I thought [Kyle] Gruno, Olu [Olegunye], and Sondre [Norheim] were wonderful to limit two of the best attacking players in our conference.”
The ‘Cuse still has plenty of work to do on the goal scoring marks. However, it’s much harder to play for a victory if the team can’t defend their leads. Starting goalkeeper Russell Shealy’s first clean sheet as a Syracuse soccer player is something for the entire team to build on. Ultimately, consistency from the back line will be pivotal to feed more positive results as young centerman Deandre Kerr adjusts to eventually find his offensive form in unison with the midfield corps.
Syracuse faces North Carolina State in Raleigh tomorrow at 7 PM. Follow my Twitter handle listed below for live coverage of the contest and more content on SU men’s soccer.
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