In the College Cup you win or go home. The Syracuse Orange won. They’re heading to the national championship for the first time ever, as they advance to the College Cup final on Monday, December 12 in Cary, NC.
From the outset, the Orange were playing quite nervy, allowing Duncan McGuire space in behind a few times, with the Orange luckily being able to track back and shut him down, keeping him out of the net for the entire first half, a task in it’s own right. Because of this, the Orange pivoted to a sort of 4-4-2, bringing on Jackson Glenn to lock down the right back position and track trailing midfielders. It worked at cutting McGuire and the attack from the channels but left the Orange midfield down a man with the departure of Lorenzo Boselli.
The tactic worked as the Orange settled into the game and pressured Creighton, getting the opener on a corner that was spilled by Creighton keeper Paul Kruse to Christian Curti for his first on the year. The Orange would take the lead into the half after being in the driver seat for the latter part of the period.
We are back in action for the second half of the NCAA College Cup Semifinal! Here is the strike from Christian Curti that gave us the lead ⚽️— Syracuse Men's Soccer (@CuseMSOC) December 10, 2022
ESPNU - https://t.co/xH3G14ingj#DareToDream pic.twitter.com/jOMQVW6zcX
To open the second half, McGuire was again the focal point of the Creighton offense, targeted left and right as the Orange tried to defend the channels. In what everyone knew would happen, he played the offside line perfect and split Christian Curti and Abdi Salim to get behind and tap one past Russel Shealy to level it. The Orange almost immediately answered off a bad Creighton turnover picked up by Levante Johnson, dropped to Jeorgio Kocevski and finished by Nate Opoku for his 10th on the season, putting the Orange back on top.
Opoku puts us back in front! ⚽️#DareToDream pic.twitter.com/uXUkuY9EsV— Syracuse Men's Soccer (@CuseMSOC) December 10, 2022
Mid-second half, Duncan McGuire had to come off for a shoulder injury and to get a blow. Alfie Pope came in for Creighton in relief of the leading scorer in the country. He proceeded to equalize almost immediately with a ball dropping to his feet in traffic off a long throw, bringing it to 2-2. The Orange went back to work, trying to work the flanks as well as work into the middle of the pitch to Opoku as a hold up. It came to no avail, but Syracuse worked their way back into control for a long run of possession and a few solid chances.
The Orange eventually picked up the go-ahead with Nate Opoku receiving a nice ball up the right side, which he took to the touch line and squared to his strike partner, Levante Johnson to put Syracuse up 3-2 late in the half. Things had been escalating and came to a head with the ball heading out of bounds to the bench of Creighton, a foul on Kocevski that wasn’t called and some serious mean-mugging from both teams. Both Noah Singelmann and Charles Auguste from Creighton received yellows from the altercation.
ABSOLUTE SCENES IN CARY AND WE'RE STILL DANCING #DareToDream pic.twitter.com/QRPtuDTSJl— Syracuse Men's Soccer (@CuseMSOC) December 10, 2022
With a minute left, Creighton threw the kitchen sink at the Orange. Thankfully McGuire missed a header on a ball over the top. Shealy corralled another attempt that sealed the game. Russel Shealy’s game is part of the reason that the Orange were where they were. He finished the game with 6 saves and many of them very impressive.
The Orange will advance to the College Cup Finals for the first time ever with the win. The match will be played against the winner of Indiana and Pittsburgh, played later tonight. The national title match will be played at 6pm on December 12th and broadcast on ESPNU or streamed on ESPN+.