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Defending National Champion SYRACUSE Has Some Reloading To Do In 2023

A Talented Continget Of Returning PLayers Supplemented By Several Experienced Newcomers Will Seek To Replicate a Magical 2022 Campaign.

Coach – Ian McIntyre 14th season
Conference – Atlantic Coast Conference
2022 Record – 19-2-4 overall, 5-1-2 conference
2022 National Ranking – Number one in United Soccer Coaches and College Soccer News polls
Five Year Win Total
2018 – 7
2019 – 8
2020 – 2
2021 – 8
2022 – 19
Key Departures

Nathan Opoku – Forward – 2022 All-ACC First Team. United Soccer Coaches 2022 First Team All-South Region. A 2022 United Soccer Coaches and College Soccer News All-American, Played in 25 games with 25 starts during 2022 season with 11 goals and eight assists. Transferred to Syracuse in 2022 after playing the 2021 season with NAIA program Lindsey Wilson College where he scored 19 goals.

Levonte Johnson – Forward – Played in 25 games in 2022 with 25 starts. Had 11 goals and six assists. 2022 MAC Hermann Trophy Finalist. 2022 United Soccer Coaches and College Soccer News All-American. All-ACC First Team selection. United Soccer Coaches All-South Region First Team selection. Led the nation with eight game-winning goals. Transferred to Syracuse in 2022 after playing the 2021 season for Seattle University where he had nine goals and eight assists.

Curt Calov – Played in 41 games with 11 starts with eight total goals and eight total assists over two seasons. Transferred to Rutgers for 2023 season.

Colin Biros – Midfielder – Played in 42 games with 28 starts over two seasons. Had four career goals and six career assists. Played for three season at the University of Akron before transferring to Syracuse.

Christian Curti – Midfielder/Defender – Played in 43 contests with 41 starts over two seasons. Had three career goals and three career assists. Played as a center back, defensive midfielder, and wingback. 2022 All-ACC Third Team and All-South Region Second Team. Transferred to Syracuse after two seasons at Marist College.

Amferny Sinclair – Midfielder – A four-year starter. Defensive midfielder. Played in 64 games with 61 starts over four seasons. Had one career goal and two career assists. Team captain.

Camden Holbrook – Midfielder – Played in a total of 44 games with four starts over three seasons. Had four career assists. Played two seasons at Appalachian State University before transferring to Syracuse.

Russell Shealy – Goalkeeper – Played in 43 games with 43 starts over three seasons with a 0.89 goals against average and 16 shutouts. All-ACC 2022 Second Team selection. 2022 ACC Tournament MVP. Team captain. Had a 0.73 goals against average and ten shutouts in 2022 season. 2022 NCAA College Cup Most Outstanding Defensive Player.

Abdi Salim – Defender – Played in 30 games with 27 starts over two seasons. Missed the 2021 season due to injury. Talented center back. Transferred to Syracuse in 2020 after playing at Buffalo State in 2019 where he was named the SUNYAC Rookie of the Year and the SUNYAC Defensive Player of the Year.
2023 Outlook

Just about every coach in the country has to annually figure out how to replace some key players but few coaches have the challenge that Ian McIntyre has heading into the 2023 season. McIntyre must sort out how to replace All-American forwards Levonte Johnson and Nathan Opoku who combined for a total of 22 goals and 14 assists, a stalwart midfielder and team leader like Amferny Sinclair, backs like Christian Curti and Abdi Salim, and a talented and composed netminder like Russell Shealy among others.

Despite significant personnel losses, it is highly likely that McIntyre is more focused on who is coming back rather than who is not. The first step in that process was the addition of five talented and experienced transfers who should fit in well with Syracuse’s system of play.

McIntyre and his staff did an exceptional job last year of merging in several highly productive transfers including forwards Johnson and Opoku who provided the big play Syracuse needed to take their game to a higher level with a solid contingent of returning players. You can’t just snap your fingers and achieve what the Orange did last year. The result was a magical program best 19 win season, the ACC regular season and tournament titles, and the program’s first ever National Championship. McIntyre will seek to replicate the success the program had last year by again combining a solid core of returning players with several experienced transfers.

The number of key departures means that Syracuse will face a learning curve. The five game 2023 spring exhibition season and a summer trip to England during which the Orange will face several top clubs should provide the opportunity for Syracuse to gel as a team and for McIntyre and his staff to get a handle on the strengths and areas where improvement is needed heading into the 2023 season. The emergence of go-to go scorers to replace the punch and big play ability that Johnson and Opoku provided on the offensive side of the ball and filling the big shoes that exist in goal due to the departure of Shealy look to be high priorities.

Midfielders Jeorgio Kocevski (5g, 4a), Giona Leibold (5g, 2a) and Lorenzo Boselli (3g, 3a) and forwards Francesco Pagano (2g, 1a) and Julius Rauch (2g, 0a) are among returning players who the Orange will likely look to for offensive firepower. Senior transfer Michael Suski who played for Boston College for three seasons looks to be among the newcomers with the ability to add an additional dimension to the attack up top.

Junior transfer Mateo Leveque, a 2022 All-Big East First Team selection at Connecticut, is among the newcomers who will add punch to the offense in the midfield along with with wing backs senior Stephen Hasse who transfers in from Niagara University where he had 18 career assists and senior transfer Nate Edwards who was a three-year starter at Purdue Fort Wayne.

Last year Syracuse’s play on the defensive side of the ball was stellar and put them in position to win every contest. Defenders Abdi Salim and Christian Curti will be missed but a solid nucleus returns. Backs senior team captain Noah Singelmann (1g, 1a), junior Olu Oyegunie and senior Jackson Glenn (0g, 1a) are slated to return along with senior center back Buster Sjoberg. Accordingly, the backline should once again be a team strength. Junior Andre Cutler-DeJesus, a transfer from Marist, is a positive addition with the experience and athleticism needed to help fill the void that exists at center back.

Sophomores Sam Coss and Jahiem Wickhim return in goal to battle for the all important starting netminder role.

Despite the gaps that must be addressed, there are high hopes for another banner season for a Syracuse team that has the momentum that accompanies winning both the ACC regular season and tournament titles and a national championship. Everything fell into place last year for Syracuse. They made the leap from a good eight win team in 2021 that played everyone close to a great 19 win team in 2022 with the elusive combination of talent and cohesiveness needed on both sides of the ball to win the close contests.

Can the magic continue for Syracuse in 2023? If everything falls into place again in 2023, there is no reason that the Orange under McIntyre can’t again be among the top teams in the country.
Newcomers – Ian McIntyre stated, “We are excited to add five outstanding young men to our roster at this important stage of the year. We felt that it was important to add quality, depth, and experience to our group after the successes of the fall. I am looking forward to quickly integrating Andre, Stephen, Mateo, Michael, and Nate into our strong, young group.”

Andre Cutler-Dejesus – Defender – Mamaroneck, New York Mamroneck High School – A junior transfer who played two season at Marist. Appeared in 33 games and made 30 starts. Scored three goals during 2022 season. Played for Met Oal MLS Next U19 team. Team captain. Had played with NYCFA Academy.

Stephen Hasse – Midfielder – Godfrey, Illinois – Marquette Catholic High School – A transfer from Niagara where he played four seasons with 59 appearances and 53 starts. Had one career goals and 18 career assists. 2022 All-MAAC First Team selection. Team captain at Niagara as a senior. Had nine assists in 2022.

Mateo Leveque – Midfielder – Nice, France – A junior transfer from Connecticut where he had 31 appearances and 27 starts during the 2021 and 2022 seasons. The 2021 Big East Freshman of the Year with three goals and six assists. An All-Big East First Team selection in 2022 with two goals and five assists.

Michael Suski – Forward – Avon, Connecticut – Loomis Chaffee – A senior transfer from Boston College where he played in 39 games with 28 starts over three seasons with 13 goals and nine assists. Scored 82 goals with 44 assists at Loomis Chaffee High School. Named Connecticut Gatorade Player of the Year in 2017 and 2018 at Loomis Chaffee.

Nate Edwards – Midfielder – Brampton, Ontario – St. Edmund Campion – A senior transfer from Purdue Fort Wayne where he played three seasons with 40 appearances and 39 starts. Had two career goals and one career assist at Purdue Fort Wayne.

Picture from Syracuse Athletics

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Posted in 2023 Team Reviews

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