Syracuse Overcomes Physical Boston College Team for 2-0 victory
By Christian De Guzman
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Friday night did not feature a normal Syracuse soccer game.
The 5th-ranked Orange welcomed 15th-ranked Boston College to the SU Soccer Stadium as SU played its first ranked game of the 2016 season. And Syracuse seemed to struggle early on against its first real test this season.
The Eagles dominated possession and SU could not peel the ball off the BC midfielders. Hendrik Hilpert was called on a few more times than usual in order to keep the Eagles off the scoresheet.
But then, SU ramped up the attack at the start of the second half. Chris Nanco was put through with a beautiful chance and pass to Sergio Camargo. His shot was denied by a sea of BC defenders, and then Johannes Pieles could not evade the Eagle defense as the ball roll out of the penalty area
That’s when Jonathan Hagman came charging in. And for the second time this year, he drove his right leg through the ball from range. His shot stayed low and BC goalkeeper Cedric Saladin was blocked by his defenders for too long. Hagman’s shot rifled into the bottom right corner, and SU was up 1-0.
Boston College still held the majority of the possession, but then Nanco got free down the left sideline after a pass from Camargo. He found Kenny Lassiter cutting inside and struck a low hard cross past Saladin. Lassiter got a foot on the ball, and SU went up 2-0.
“That first goal calmed us down a bit,” said Coach Ian McIntyre. “Then the game opened up a bit, because they had to chase it. And that second goal was an important one.”
With the win, the Orange tied a program record for the best start to a season with 7 straight wins. Tuesday will be an exciting day for SU soccer, when they attempt to break the record on the road against Cornell.
The crowd certainly helped carry SU to victory on Friday night. 2,132 people were at SU Soccer Stadium to create a raucous environment that slowly started to affect the players on the pitch as the match wore on.
“This had a playoff feel to it,” said McIntyre. “We showed a lot of character, stayed the course, and found a way to win this game.”
Even though Boston College was down, the Eagles continued to play aggressively. BC defenders often slid hard for tackles, especially inside the box. Nanco was taken down inside the box on two occasions, but no penalty was given. BC was playing so aggressively that defender Younes Boudadi was sent off after received a second yellow card for a hard challenge on Liam Callahan in the 76th minute.
“They’re a physical team,” said McIntyre. “It became a scrappy game. When we started to find some space in the second half, I thought we looked a lot better.”
Friday’s game showcased many of the reasons why SU is worthy of its number 5 ranking in the polls. A brilliant showing from the defense gave Orange goalkeeper Hendrik Hilpert his 5th clean sheet of the season.
“We know that as a defense, we can give the whole game a solid foundation,” said Hilpert. “We didn’t have to score, but we wanted to score. And that’s different than when you have to score, when you have the pressure to do it.”
Freshman defensive midfielder Mo Adams also continued to impress for SU on Friday. His tackles in the final third as well as his passing to the wings and attacking midfielders helped deny BC chances while giving Syracuse more possession.
“With them playing a high line, there were spaces behind that we had to exploit,” said Adams. “You saw in the second half with the likes of Nanco, Camargo, and Johannes, getting behind their back four, it shows how we capitalized on them.”
Now 7-0-0, Syracuse continues to find ways to win, behind a veteran defense and a creative attack. And even a strong and physical team such as Boston College could only do so much to slow the momentum of the Orange. And it seems like everyone is enjoying the soccer on display, as Coach McIntyre explained.
“These are fun nights. This is why we do this.”