When the Syracuse Orange start the scoring with an olimpico, you have a feeling it’s going to be a fun ride. The Orange played an up and down match, weathered the storm from the Vermont Catamounts and are heading back to the College Cup after a 2-1 victory. Finishing the campaign 11-2-2 at home, the Orange will take to the road next week, returning to Cary, North Carolina where they won the ACC Title in order to face Creighton in the College Cup Semifinal.
The first half was played at a frenetic pace, and dealt with some inclement weather, from torrential downpour at kick, to swirling winds that set any aerial ball on a different path than it was sent. Right off the bat, the Orange were in attack mode, starting Curt Calov again at the right wing back and pushing the offense forward down that flank. His account was opened on the day in the eleventh minute when the Orange won a corner with a more traditional look, that was deflected out of play for a second corner. Calov stood over it and the Orange decided to crowd the keeper and the endline and put something into the mixer. It dropped just over the keeper, Nate Silveira’s outstretched fist and in for the goal.
The Catamounts were keeping pace, and working the Orange back line of Abdi Salim, Christian Curti and Olu Oyegunle repeatedly. They held through the match, with Vermont only scoring on a Daniel Pacella wonderstrike that I don’t think was being stopped no matter who was on the pitch. On the end of a late run, his absolute rocket on a ball that dropped about ten yards outside the eighteen had that flat knuckling trajectory that wasn’t being kept out.
To put the Orange on top for good, you knew we had to mention the duo of Levante Johnson and Nathan Opoku. The two, along with Lorenzo Boselli had some great interplay throughout the match. It came to head in the forty second minute with Opoku holding up, dancing through a few defenders and laying off to Johnson for the game winning second goal on the day. It was Opoku’s sixth assist and Johnson’s tenth goal on the season.
The second half turned into a more controlled affair and ultimately had Syracuse hunkering down and defending. They were always up to the task, and got the job done against a good Vermont side. The half was chippy, with cards flying and physicality increasing as the Catamounts were on the ropes. Both Syracuse and Vermont had chances, including a breakaway from Opoku late in the match and a shot from Cameron Holbrook as time expired. Fortunately for the Orange they were able to hold out and not allow a shot on target in the second half to see out the win.
That victory sends Syracuse to the College Cup for just the second time. Both trips have been under Coach Ian McIntyre, the first coming in 2015. The 17 wins on the year also tie a Syracuse record for wins in a season. They will face the Creighton Blue Jays in the semifinal on December 9th at 6pm. The match will be broadcast on ESPNU or streamed via the ESPN app.