Syracuse Men’s Soccer’s Dominating Defense

Monday, Sep 04, 2023 at 12:11 pm by Sports Editor

By Adam Gotkin | @adam_gotkin

After last year’s national title, there has been a lot of turnover in the Syracuse Men’s Soccer program. This has been all over the place, but especially on the defensive end. Just one of the four defenders who started the national championship game against Indiana has featured in a game this fall. Noah Singlemann was one of the starters and is on this year’s team but has been out with an injury, The one who has played this year is Olu Oyegunle who hasn’t even started every match this season.

Oyegunle started against both Providence and Penn State however he didn’t play at all in the match against Binghamton. The reason behind this wasn’t an injury, or anything Oyegunle did bad, but just that head coach Ian McIntyre thought that due to matchups the team would be better with Pablo Pedrogosa in, instead. If there is any way to show the depth of this team, that is it.

It was already mentioned how Singlemann is still with the team but hasn’t played due to injury. Another key contributor to the 2022 national title season, Buster Sjoberg was injured before the college cup and is still returning from his injury. Sjoberg was drafted in the 3rd round of the MLS draft by the Vancouver Whitecaps but decided to return to the 315. Sjoberg has appeared in all three matches so far, primarily playing in the second half.

Someone who has stepped up in the place of Sjoberg is a returner, Gavin Wigg. The senior saw just two appearances last season but has started every match so far this year. Wigg has been a massive part of the backline so far this year but when Singlemann returns, it is most likely he will lose his starting job.

Behind the defense, SU had to replace its keeper Russell Shealy. The keeper will be remembered as one of the great goalies to come through SU and his penalty saves in the national championship will forever be remembered. So, how did Ian McIntyre replace him? He went to the transfer portal and brought in one of the best amateur goalkeepers in the nation. Jason Smith who played his first two years at Utah Valley has come in and started every match. Smith was one of the top goalies in the WAC last year but really broke out this past summer. As a part of the Park City Redwolves in USL 2, Smith was named to the national team of the year.

With Smith in the net and the extreme depth in front of him, Syracuse has already impressed immensely on the defensive end this year. The Orange have given up just one goal, and that came while down a man in the 88th minute against 20th-ranked Penn State. That was with Smith not in the game as he was shown the red card. The Orange look to keep up their defensive dominance later today when they host UAlbany at 7 p.m.