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Syracuse is shaping up to be a soccer school

The men’s and women’s teams are both off to their strongest starts in years

Steve Haller

We all know that the Syracuse Orange are off to a hot start on the gridiron. Their 2-0 start has elevated them to slight favorites against Purdue tomorrow. But while there’s plenty of talk around campus about ‘Cuse suddenly being a football school, two teams on South Campus are making a case that it’s really a fútbol school.

The SU men’s and women’s soccer squads have both been scorching hot out of the gates. The men’s team (5-0-1) holds the #16 ranking in the AP poll, with ranked wins over both Penn State and Notre Dame. The program has seen considerable success during Head Coach Ian McIntyre’s tenure, and this year is no exception. If anything, it’s actually more akin to the golden days of the mid 2010s. The last time the Orange had this strong of a start to a season was in 2016, when, fresh off their sole ACC Championship, SU surged to eight straight wins.

The top point getters so far are Nathan Opoku and Levonte Johnson, a pair of transfers that McIntyre nabbed to fill glaring holes up front. Goalkeeper Russell Shealy has locked down the net, shutting out both Top-25 foes he’s faced and allowing only one goal in his five starts.

NCAA SOCCER: DEC 11 Men’s College Cup - Clemson v Syracuse Photo by Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Meanwhile, Nicky Thrasher Adams’s rebuild is starting to see fruition. After a combined eight wins in her first three seasons coaching, the Orange (7-1-0) have dominated non-conference play in 2022. Their two biggest contributors are forwards Erin Fleury and Chelsea Domond, players that Adams brought in last year but who could not play due to injuries. They’ve quickly made up for that lost time and kickstarted the once-dormant offense.

In net, SU had a three-way battle entering the season. True freshman Shea Vanderbosch seems to have won that competition and has posted three shutouts in her six starts. From where the team was a year ago, there’s improvement across the board. The real challenge will be if that continue in ACC play, where ‘Cuse was winless last fall.

Both teams will have a massive challenge tonight, with McIntyre’s men traveling to face #1 Clemson (on the ACC Network) and Adams’s team defending their home pitch against #3 Duke (available on ACCNX). Both can be a gauge as to just how far these soccer clubs have improved - and how long they can keep up their impressive performances.