Syracuse - Four Star Recruiting Class - No team made more progress last year than the Orange. Syracuse posted fourteen wins in 2012 as compared with two in 2010 and three in 2011, they earned an invite to the NCAA Tourney for just the second time in the history of the program, and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen.
Ian McIntyre will enter his third season as the head coach at Syracuse along with assistants Jukka Masalin and Mike Miller with a ton of momentum and a lot of excitement surrounding the program. However, they do have some rebuilding to accomplish and face the challenge of moving from the familiar confines of the Big East Conference to the Atlantic Coast Conference. All things considered there are plenty of reasons to believe that this is a program that has turned the corner and that the success that Syracuse enjoyed last year wasn't just a fleeting thing. However it takes more than one winning season to establish a winning tradition and the Orange lost a lot of talent from the 2012 team so there's room for debate regarding the level of success that Syracuse will enjoy in 2013.
Last year the Orange put the ball in the back of the net thirty-nine times while holding opponents to a total of seventeen. Compare that with ten goals scored and thirty-two allowed in 2010 and twenty goals scored and twenty-eight allowed in 2011 and it is clear that the Orange was much stronger on both sides of the ball in 2012.
The encouraging news heading into the 2013 campaign is that Syracuse returns a very solid core on the defensive side of the ball. The not so encouraging news which creates a big unanswered question is that the Orange has a huge void to fill on the offensive side of the ball due to the graduation of Lars Muller, (6g, 3a), Ted Cribley (4g, 6a) and Louis Clark (4g, 4a) and the decision of Jordan Vale (9g, 3a) who led Syracuse in scoring last year to transfer to UCLA. Senior forward Tony Asante (5g, 4a) was the returning player who was the most likely candidate to fill the offensive void but an injury sustained over the summer may keep him out of the lineup. Syracuse clearly needs an infusion of talent on the offensive side of the ball.
Any discussion of the Syracuse defense has to begin with sophomore goalkeeper Alex Bono who had a banner rookie season during which he posted a 0.85 goals against average and recorded ten shutouts which was the most recorded by a Syracuse netminder since the 1984 season. Bono is an excellent shot stopper and belongs on any short list of top college goalkeepers heading into the 2013 season. He was a College Soccer News First Team All-Freshman selection last year and was named to the Big East All-Rookie Team. Redshirt sophomores Andrew Coughlin and Matt Stith also return in goal.
Much of the discussion about the Syracuse backline will center around the return of junior defender Skyler Thomas who broke his right foot midseason last year. McIntyre stated, "He (Thomas) was arguably our best player when he got hurt." Having a healthy Thomas back will be a big boost for the Orange. However, it may take a while before he is at full speed. Juniors Chris Makowski and Jordan Murrell (2g, 7a) who started every contest last year also return in the back along with redshirt sophomore Tyler Hilliard who assumed a starting role when Thomas was injured. Sophomores Trevor Alexander and Brandon Albert and newcomer Oyvind Alseth will add depth in the back. With or without Thomas, the Orange defense will be very solid.
Junior Nick Perea (1g, 1a) and sophomore Stefanos Stamoulacatos (2g, 4a) are playmakers who return to lead the way in the midfield. Both are also among the players who McIntyre will look to for offensive firepower. Sophomore midfielder Jusso Pasanen (0g, 2a) is among other returning players who will be in the hunt for playing time. Freshman speedster Chris Nanco who has been a member of the Canadian Youth National Team is among the newcomers who should contend for playing time right away in the midfield.
Junior Grant Chong and sophomore Noah Rhynhart are among returning forwards. Newcomer Alex Halis who participated in spring practice should add offensive punch either up-top or in the midfield. McIntyre stated, "He (Halis) will immediately provide our team a new threat in the final third of the field." Freshman Emil Edblom who was impressive during exhibition play and junior Gogo Kollie who transfers in from Otero Junior College are among the newcomers who have the potential to be difference makers on the offensive side of the ball.
Had Asante not been injured, he would have given the Orange an established go-to goal scorer up-top. Without him, offense by committee may prove to be the ticket for Syracuse in 2013. If the Orange can muster a productive attack to compliment what should be a very tenacious defense they will be very good in 2013. The fact that Syracuse outscored their opponents 11-3 while going 3-0-0 in the exhibition season is a very positive sign.
The first few games on Syracuse's 2013 schedule open the door for the Orange to get off to a good start. They begin the season on August 30 at Colgate then return home to host Hartwick. They open ACC play at Virginia Tech on September 6 and then host Manhattan. A good outcome in those games is important because things begin to get much tougher after that beginning with games at home against Notre Dame and Connecticut followed by an ACC contest on the road with Duke.
Alex Halis - Midfield/Forward - Brampton, Ontario, Canada - St. Edmund Campion Secondary School - Member of the Canadian Youth National Program. Played club soccer for FC Sigma.
Mike Koegel - Midfield - Kirkville, New York - Chittenango High School - Sectin III OHSL Freedom Division First Team selection. Played club soccer for Empire United.
Oyvind Alseth - Midfield/Defender - Trondeim, Norway - KVT - Played three seasons for Rosenborg BK. 2012 Profile Player of the Year.
Aron Coste - Midfield - Takoma Park, Maryland - Montgomery Blair High School - Played club soccer for Bethesda SC. Led high school team to the Montgomery County 4A Division title.
Emil Ekblom - Forward - Bekkestua, Norway - Toppidrettsgymnas (NTG) - Attended the Norwegian Top Athlete School. Led team with nineteen goals in 2012. Played for the Stabaek club team.
Emmanuel Kollie - Midfield - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - Father Judge High School - Junior transfer from Otero Junior College. Two-time NJCAA All-Region IX First Team selection.
Kenny Lassiter - Defender - Narbeth, Pennsylvania - Lower Merion High School - All-Central League and All-Main Line First Team selection. Played for the Philadelphia Union Academy team.
Chris Nanco - Midfield - Brampton, Ontario, Canada - St. Edmund Campion Secondary School - Played for Canada at the 2011 CONCACAF U-17 Championship in Jamaica. Played club soccer for FC Sigma.