The Syracuse Orange will open the season ranked no. 15 in the country. The Georgetown Hoyas will open as the third-ranked team overall. They two met in the opening friendly of the year for each this past Saturday in a rematch of last season's Round of 16 NCAA tournament game (which SU unfortunately lost).
It was a difficult test for a young Syracuse team and one racked with a good bit of turnover, including two of their top four scorers from last year -- an MLS-quality defender and an All-American goalkeeper called up to the U.S. Men's National Team. It doesn't seem so bad until you put it like that...
The starting lineup included a lot of new faces and four freshman. I wasn't able to make it up to the match, so I'm going off hearsay and what I could glean from the box score and play-by-play (which is surprisingly little and a lot at the same time).
I was looking to put up a starting XI grid, but there are so many question marks as to positioning with the starters, I'm not even going to try. Next game I can actually get to, I'll make sure to get an accurate picture of where Coach Mac is playing these guys.
In the first half, Syracuse actually seemed to control the run of play despite being down 1-0 early and tallied more shots than the visitors, by a margin of 5-2, forcing two saves in the process. After the half, and a good number of substitutions, the Hoyas took control and sent 10 shots at freshman goalkeeper Austin Aviza. He made a valliant effort, saving five, but two found their way past him leaving the final score line at 3-0.
Overall it was a day of tinkering for coach Ian McIntyre, as he looks to determine the strengths and weaknesses of a team that really hasn't had that much time together. Many of the young cogs will fit in place with experience and shuffling. To have them come out of the gates and hold their own against the Hoyas, at least for a half, in the college debut for many of them, is a good sign of things to come.
The next preseason friendly for the Orange is this Wednesday, August 19, against the Buffalo Bulls, up at the Syracuse Soccer Stadium.