It wasn't always pretty, but the job got done all the same. Syracuse Orange Men's Soccer keeps on rolling. In their Second Round NCAA Tournament matchup with the Dartmouth Big Green, Syracuse was far and away the favorite, having just knocked down three top five teams in the last week and a half. The chippy Ivy Leaguers gave a good bit of trouble to the #6 overall seed and had more than their chance to make this a different result, but the mix of poor finishing and quality defending allowed the Orange to head into the Round of 16 with their postseason lives intact.
Syracuse controlled possession most of the first half, trying to probe the Dartmouth defense, which was holding strong down the wings. They left significant space in the middle of the park, but Syracuse was unable to capitalize on the increased control and went down in the 30th minute off of a hard Dartmouth counter-attack. Dartmouth #10 Matt Greer threaded a beautiful ball to the right midfielder Justin Donawa that was slotted home. The run was textbook and they executed while Syracuse was still pushed up the field, leaving the home side down 1-0.
Within four minutes, Ben Polk decided to do what he's been doing all season and netted the equalizer. In a hold up position inside the box, Polk received the ball from Julian Buescher. Instead of looking to lay it off, he turned and fired, placing it just inside the upper 90, off the crossbar and in. It was Polk's eleventh goal of the season, leading the team.
Coming out after the half, the Orange maintained the pace early, and the payoff came in the 55th minute, with Louis Cross on the end of a Buescher cross in a little bit of post set piece chaos. It was his third of the year and ended up as the game winning goal. Buescher's assist was his tenth on the year, second of the match, also a team best.
Syracuse continued to press forward and put the game away, giving up still more on the counter, with a few near misses from Dartmouth, before hunkering down and attempting to see the game out late. One of the series late on tested the young defense immensely, with at least two shots on target, one off the woodwork, one blocked and then the ball forced wide. The Orange weathered the storm and were able to put the Big Green away for a victory. Advancing to the next round, against Seattle University, 1pm. at Syracuse Soccer Stadium.
Season Stats to Date
Post Game Press Conference: