The Syracuse Orange had about as wild a Sunday night as you can on a soccer pitch, thoroughly dominating a match, front to back, and barely squeaking out a 4-3 win over the Hofstra Pride. After two relatively undeserved Hofstra goals in the first half, the Orange were able to answer a second half screamer by the Pride in order to win their home opener for the 2019 campaign.
Starting the match, the Orange trotted out in what has become a new but effective formation for the season, in a 4-3-3, including a surprise in freshman Michael Lantry, a local defender, getting the nod at left back.
It should be noted that Kamal Miller, Jan Breitenmoser and Adnan Bakalovic were all present, but in warmups for the match. Miller, a multi-year starter at center back, was walking around in a knee brace.
Right off the bat, the home side was working their game, both fullbacks overlapping and allowing the wings to cut inside a bit. The attacking led to multiple chances early, especially working the left flank, with Lantry and Ryan Raposo both putting dangerous crosses in towards Severin Soirle in the box. In the 15th minute, Raposo received a beautiful looping switch from Hugo Delhommelle, attacking towards the top of the 18. A strong shot from Raposo was saved, spilled by the keeper and expertly finished by transfer Soirle in the right place when he needed to be to open the scoring for the Orange.
This season it seems Delhommelle has been playing a defensive midfield role, even dropping deep into a back three when needed. On top of the defensive work, he’s capable of playing that metronome and even being a bit of the regista when needed, picking a pass from deep.
Hofstra equalized after a stretch of nice period of Orange possession again, including an extremely impressive bit of skill from Tajon Buchanan that led to a shot after he beat three defenders. The Pride drew a bit of a soft penalty, but a penalty nonetheless, which was slotted home to the right of the diving Hendrik Hilpert. John-Austin Ricks was whistled for some contact with the Hofstra winger’s foot, which Ricks found after making the tackle and the attacker possibly making a bit of a meal of it.
Buchanan Probably had the game of this career, showing that he can play up top as a true striker, or out on the wing, wherever needed. His versatility was on display on the day as he was able to contribute to three of four Syracuse goals, with an assist and a brace. The first goal for Tajon came on a strong header at the end of a curling outswinger from a 40 yard Delhommelle set piece.
Right before the half, Hofstra equalized on a set piece into the box, which Hilpert went up for. The keeper went up for the ball, but was sniped by the Hofstra forward, Nealis, who put it trough on goal. At the half, the score was 2-2 somehow, with Syracuse controlling 40 of the 45 minutes or so.
The second half kicked uneventfully, with the Orange still in control for a good amount of time. Raposo showed his quality on some nice back shoulder runs, flicks on to Buchanan, and 1-2’s worked with the overlapping Lantry. Unfortunately as all this got going, Lantry was given a yellow card for a chippy challenge and was pulled for Simon Triantafillou.
Later in the half, the game ramped up, with three goals in the final seven minutes. Raposo served the ball across the box to Buchanan, who set up winger HIlli Goldhar for the go-ahead in the 84th. Great flick on by Buchanan for Goldhar on the back post.
The fireworks continued as within three minutes, the Pride slotted a rocket in from the top of the box, to even things up with two minutes left. With everyone watching, expecting extra time, the Orange swung back down the field in the 88th minute and finished the game off, Buchanan slotting home a deflected clearance off Hilli Goldhar. The finish was clinical to the back post and if you get a chance, look up Tajon’s backflip goal celebration, it was worth it.
The Orange take the win and move to 2-1-0 on the year. They will host the Notre Dame Fighting Irish this coming Friday, September 7 in a huge match up at SU Soccer Stadium.