I have a confession to make. A rookie mistake even. I had a wonderfully crafted piece of art that was ready to be published here, but the internet gods would have none of it. Let's see what happens for take two.
The Syracuse Orange Men's Soccer team (#20) took on the Rams of Fordham this Sunday in their pre-season opener. The Orange walked away from it as 2-1 victors on the evening, with Stefanos Stamoulacatos and Nick Perea slotting home goals in the first half. Stamoulacatos netted his goal off an Emil Ekblom pass, after the Norwegian slipped his defender for the opener in the 12th minute. Later in the half, Jordan Murrell provided the long range service for Perea which he deftly put in the back of the net. The 38th minute strike ended up being the game winner.
Coach McIntyre deployed a 4-2-3-1 with newcomer Ekblom up top. Ekblom was up to the task and made some solid runs from the forward spot, moving well off of the midfielders. My life will be easier when SU isn't wearing their training kits and I can go off of uniform numbers from the sideline, but Ekblom with his white beyond white hair was easy enough to pick out.
Andrew Coughlin, another Baldwinsville native got the nod in goal. There were a few team members that weren't dressed for an unknown reason, starting keeper Alex Bono being one of them. Coughlin wasn't tested much in the 2/3 of a game he was in, coming up with one save. Matt Stith came in late in the second half to relieve Coughlin. The Rams did end up scoring off a set piece in the 62nd minute, but weren't a consistent threat and only mustered two shots on goal.
Chris Makowski, Jordan Murrell and Tyler Hilliard all put in time in the defense, with Makowski going the full 90'. The defense seemed to be up to anything Fordham brought at them, clearing or dispossessing any ball into the area.
Skylar Thomas made his triumphant return to the team in the second half. Thomas was a consistent starter and major cog in the defensive machine for the Orange last year, prior to being sidelined with a broken foot. He made his return to the lineup in place of Oyvind Alseth, who put in a very solid shift at right back. Both Thomas and Alseth seemed composed on the ball and made smart challenges throughout the game.
A few more of the newcomers, Mike Koegel, Alex Halis and Chris Nanco got some run out today as well, Halis playing in the #10 role, Nanco on the left wing and Koegel in the pivot. Halis impressed me with his ball control and the ability to create for himself. Nanco has every bit of pace he was billed with and looked good on the ball. He did have a few rough first touches, but that should work itself out. Koegel ended up working well within the system, patrolling the midfield and distributing as necessary. All in all the fresh faces looked as though they were integrating well.
It was a solid warm up for the squad and the team looked good through most of the match, keeping offensive pressure up and maintaining possession throughout the first half, while playing a little more defensively in the second. All in all the team took their foot off the gas a bit in the second half, allowing more possession to Fordham, but they were able to maintain control of their third and only concede the single goal off a missed mark on a set piece.
The men return to action tonight against Ryerson University from Toronto at home, 7pm. They finish the preseason against Georgetown away on Sunday, looking to avenge the NCAA Tournament PK loss to the Hoyas last year.