We’ve made it to the fall, which means it’s football time. Not just American. It’s becoming a recurring theme here with the Syracuse Orange soccer team. Coach Ian McIntyre looks like he’s losing a huge chunk of the squad to graduation, then comes back in and reloads through the transfer portal and recruiting to have a completely new look, but still quality side. This year’s team is no different. The core of very experienced returners and the addition of a few key pieces should put the Orange on the radar in a once again packed ACC schedule.
Since the Orange joined the ACC, there’s never been an “easy” schedule that they’ve seen. This year, of course is no different. That said, of the six ACC teams that are ranked in the United Soccer Coaches preseason poll, the Orange only have to face three of them this year. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the three they’re facing are unanimous number one Clemson, Notre Dame ranked fourth, and Wake Forest coming in at fifteenth. Clemson is on the road at Riggs Field and will be broadcast on the ACC Network, Friday, September 16th. The other two will be home games to circle on the calendar with Notre Dame coming to town September 10th for an afternoon kick at 1pm and Wake on October 7th at 7pm. The remaining ACC teams ranked are Pittsburgh at No. 7, Duke at No. 12, and North Carolina at No. 24. Virginia Tech, who the Orange also have a road matchup against come in just outside the Top 25 at 27th.
They’re also being tested in the out of conference. with matches against Penn State, the preseason No. 21 team in the country (Home on August 28th/On ACCN) and away at Vermont who is receiving votes in the poll as well. Spacing on these big matches seems to be fine, with some “down” games in between which could help with squad rotation and staying fresh.
Returners: Julius Rauch (So.), Francesco “Cici” Pagano (So.)
Newbies: Lorenzo Boselli (Sr.), Levante Johnson (Sr.), Nathan Opoku (So.), Andrea DeBlasio (Fr.)
I cover it below, but every bit of experience that the midfield have, the Syracuse attack lacks. There’s plenty of talent, including a pair of transfers in to fight for a starting spot. Levante Johnson came in from University of Seattle and Nathan Opoku who formerly played for NAIA Lindsey Wilson College. Those two should push the group along with Cici Pagano, the Fayetteville, NY native who comes back as a big target man. It’s going to be a group that will need to fight to finish, teams always need a clinical finisher somewhere out there, so you have to hope that emerges from the unknowns.
Returners: Noah Singleman (Sr.), Amferny Sinclair (Sr.), Julio Fulcar (Sr.), Colin Biros (Sr.), Camden Holbrook (Sr.), Jeorgio Kocevski (Jr.), Stephen Betz (Jr.), Jackson Glenn (Jr.), Tony Shaw (Jr.), Curt Calov (So.), Giona Liebold (So.), Michal Gradus (So.),, Aidan Arber (So.)
Newbies: Louis Bulger (Sr.), Trevor Carabin (Fr.), Antonino “Nino” Pagano (Fr.), Noah Lechelt (Fr.)
The midfield touts a great deal of experience and talent and with that some lofty expectations. The Orange return at least six midfielders who had a major impact last season, with preseason ACC-Watch List candidate Amferny Sinclair anchoring the group. Standout sophomore Curt Calov returns on the attacking end of the center of the pitch. The other four at the top end of the mix are likely local product Jeorgio Kocevski and the trio of seniors Noah Singelmann, Julio Fulcar and Colin Biros. At the wingback spots, you’ve got a tall order fitting Coach Mac’s system and the need for full blown gut-busting runs and workrate. It’s likely that we see Giona Liebold out wide on the left. He for a good bit of run through the season last year and could come into his own. Transfer from Butler, Louis Bulger may lock down the other side to start it off.
Returners: Christian Curti (Sr.), Abdi Salim (Sr.), Gavin Wigg (Jr.), Buster Sjoberg (Sr.), Olu Oygunle (So.),
Newbies: Marc Chin (Fr.)
The defense returns some solid talent, but from on the field and from injury. Abdi Salim is coming back from a lower body injury last year and is stepping back into the centerback battle to fill out Mac’s three and the back formation. Similarly, the group is overwhelmingly upperclassmen, and in this case, not immediately transferred upperclassmen. Christian Curti, Salim and Buster Sjoberg have all gotten a good bit of run for the Orange the last few years. Olu Oygunle came in in the spring semester of 2021 and immediately found his way onto the pitch. Some three of those four will be battling it out for Syracuse in defense this year, with transfer Gavin Wigg and frosh Marc Chin that are in the backup positions at present.
Returners: Russell Shealy , Parker Kump, Lucas Daunhauer
Newbies: Sam Cross (Fr.), Jahiem Wickham (Fr.)
Expectations: Russell Shealy and Lucas Daunhauer are both fifth year guys that will be vying for the number one spot. Shealy started nine of last seasons contests when not injured, Daunhauer started the other eight. Both are going to be vying for that starting spot. Shealy started both preseason contests I was able to get eyes on, but it’s preseason, so we’ll see who’s in goal when it happens.
The Orange open the year officially on Thursday August 25th against Iona up at SU Soccer Stadium. All matches can be streamed on ACC Network Extra this year. There are two games (Clemson and Penn State) that will be on ACC Network as well.