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Syracuse men’s soccer win Round of 16 matchup against Cornell

The Syracuse revenge tour marches on.

At this point, I think the powers that control this galaxy are just lining up teams that gave the Syracuse Orange (16-2-4, 5-1-1) fits in the regular season and saying “beat them” to make it to the College Cup. After knocking off Virginia en-route to the ACC Tournament Championship, Syracuse has now beaten the only other team to best them during the regular season, the Cornell Big Red, 1-0 to move on to the NCAA Quarterfinals. There they will face Vermont, a team that the Orange drew early in the season. It seems as though Cornell could not get it done on a cold and rainy afternoon in Stoke Syracuse.

Syracuse controlled the pace of most of the game and had their chances, but couldn’t put one home to ease the pressure until late in the game. In the 83rd minute, Giona Leibold took a great outlet from keeper Russell Shealy, split two defenders, leaving one on the ground and finished the counterattack for the match winner. The goal was his fifth on the year and was an impressive full pitch lung busting sprint to put the Orange ahead. Shealy’s distribution had shades of the Ghost of Tim Howard past as we enter this holiday season and sit in the middle of a World Cup.

The conditions themselves did no favors to pace of play or technicality on the pitch, but Syracuse was able to win in rough weather to survive and advance. They started the match without senior midfielder Amferny Sinclair, their starting holding midfielder, due to yellow card accumulation, and continued without Buster Sjoberg in the backline trio, still recovering from injury.

The loss of Sinclair shifted Noah Singelmann from his normal wingback position to the number six slot and put Curt Calov back into the starting lineup as the right wingback, a position he hadn’t played much of this year. The switch did, however add a bit of creativity to that side of the pitch and kept Calov, an offensive threat, on the pitch more than a standard match. He was a direct part of two of the better chances the Orange had on the day, putting a free kick just barely wide in the first half, and having a well placed strike tipped by Cornell keeper Ryan Friedberg that put it just onto the crossbar.

Syracuse finished with 16 shots, four of them on target, and in general was in control of the match. They were able to record their 11th clean sheet on the year, and held the Big Red to only two shots on frame. The backline of Olu Oyegunle, Christian Curti and Abdi Salim have deputized well for the loss of Buster Sjoberg, who did make his return late in this match to see things off. Curti in particular has thrived when moved into that central spot in the back three. He seems comfortable with the change and can give the Orange a different look as well back there now that Sjoberg has returned.

This season is now the second time that the Orange have made it this far in the college postseason. The only other time the program has reached the quarterfinals was during the 2015 run, where they made it to the semis of the College Cup before being eliminated on penalties to Clemson.

The Orange will host Vermont this Saturday at 2pm in the NCAA quarterfinal. Admission will be $10 for adults, $5 for kids at the SU Soccer Stadium.