|School – Syracuse University|
|Conference – Atlantic Coast|
|Coach – Ian McIntyre – (7th Season)|
Background – Syracuse had an historic season in 2015 that included a 16-5-4 overall record and a 3-4-1 mark in conference play.
Ian McIntyre became the head coach at Syracuse in 2010 taking over the reigns of the program from Dean Fotin who compiled a 141-171-33 overall record while serving as head coach from 1991 through 2009.
McIntyre immediately began the process of creating a culture of excellence and building a program that was capable of annually competing for a conference championship and being a force on the national scene. He also went about the vital process of bringing on board players with the talent and toughness needed to compete at the highest level of play.
The Orange had a total of five wins during the 2010 and 2011 seasons but they turned the corner with a huge breakout season in 2012 that included a 14-6-2 overall record, the program's second ever berth in the NCAA Tournament and first since the 1984 campaign, and they played their way into the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in the history of the program.
Syracuse moved from the highly competitive Big East Conference to the arguably even more competitive Atlantic Coast Conference in 2013. They were 10-7-1 overall with a 3-7-1 mark in their inaugural season in ACC play.
In 2014 Syracuse took another step upward with a 16-4-1 overall record, they won a share of the ACC Atlantic Division Title, earned the number nine seed in the NCAA Tournament, and again advanced to the Sweet Sixteen.
The Orange forever raised the standard of excellence for the program in 2015 when they won the ACC Championship, secured a program best six seed in the NCAA Tourney, and advanced to the College Cup (Final Four) for the first time in the history of the program. The 2015 senior class finished their careers with fifty-six wins, the highest total to date for any class in school history.
Midfielder Julian Buescher was named a 2015 First Team All-American by College Soccer News and a Second Team All-American by the NSCAA. Buescher was also an All-ACC First Team selection. Midfielder Oyvind Alseth was a 2015 All-ACC Third Team selection, while defenders Kamal Miller and Miles Robinson were named to the ACC All-Freshman Team.
Buescher and forward Ben Polk were named to the NSCAA All-South Region First Team.
Robinson was a College Soccer News First Team All-Freshman Team selection and goalkeeper Hendrik Hilpert was named to the CSN Second Team All-Freshman Team.
Offense – The Orange will enter the 2016 season with a ton of offensive firepower to replace due to the decision of forward Ben Polk (12g, 4a) and midfielder Julian Buescher (8g, 11a) to enter the professional ranks. Both were Grade A playmakers who were first round selections in the MLS SuperDraft.
Syracuse also will be without the very capable services of midfielders Noah Rhynhart (4g, 1a), Juuso Pasanen (0g, 3a) and Korab Syla (1g, 3a) due to graduation.
The departures accounted for twenty-five of the forty-six goals Syracuse scored last year and twenty-two of the forty-two assists.
Senior forward Chris Nanco (4g, 3a) looks to be the go-to guy up-top for the Orange in 2016. Nanco is a proven commodity and extremelly capable finisher who has been a starter and impact player for the past three seasons. Redshirt junior Kenny Lassiter (1g, 1a) who appeared in nineteen contests last year will likely join Nanco up-top. Lassiter, who had an impressive spring season, appears to have the physicality needed to add an additional dimension to the attack.
Senior Oyvind Alseth (3g, 5a) returns to set the pace for the team in the midfield. Alseth has been a starter since arriving on campus and is equally effective in the center of the park or out wide. He is a talented linkman whose ability to send timely and accurate balls forward contributes significantly to the offense.
Sophomore Jonathan Hagman, who now has the benefit of a year of experience at Syracuse under his belt, is a promising box to box midfielder who will likely be counted upon to contribute on both sides of the ball in 2016. Newcomer Hampus Bergdal who participated in the spring season should contend for the defensive midfielder position or possibly playing time in the back. Sophomore Andreas Jenssen (0g, 1a) who saw action in nineteen contests last year and sophomore Morgan Hackworth who appeared in six matches are among other returning players that look to be in the mix for a greater role in the midfield in 2016.
Attacking midfielder Sergion Camargo transfers in from Coastal Carolina where he netted nineteen goals over a three year span. He should fit in nicely with Syracuse's style of play and has the potential to hit the ground running. Camargo, a 2015 All-Big South Second Team selection, is a talented playmaker and proven finisher.
Center midfielder Mo Adams and forward Johannes Pieles are among other members of the 2016 recruiting class who could add to the offense right out of the gate.
Sophomore holding midfielder Jan Breitenmoser who transfers in from NAIA Bluefield College, highly regarded midfielder Kyle Gurrieri, and midfielder John Austin Ricks are among other members of the recruiting class that are potential X-Factors who could make an immediate contribution.
Defense – The backline looks to be a team strength with everyone back from the 2015 team that held a very competitve slate of opponents to a total of twenty-two goals while recording nine shutouts. The Orange defense gelled and grew stronger as the season progressed last year.
Fifth year senior Liam Callahan (1g, 9a) will be a pace setter in the back and team leader. Callahan is recovering from a broken foot sustained in the Final Four last year but hopes to be at full speed by the start of the 2016 season. His service from the left adds to the attack as reflected in the nine helpers he contributed in 2015.
Senior Louis Cross (3g, 1a) returns to anchor the defense at the center back position. Cross is a composed and very tenacious ball winner. Talented sophomores Miles Robinson and Kamal Miller also return in the back with the advantage of having a very productive year of starting experience under their belts.
Sophomores Austin Aviza and Hendrix Hilpert return in goal. Aviza appeared in nine contests last year with a 0.97 goals against average and Hilpert played in sixteen with a 0.78 average. Both are extremely capable goalkeepers.
Newcomers – Four Star Recruiting Class
Coach McIntyre stated, "A recruiting class is ultimately judged based upon its overall impact on a team during its time on campus. We feel that this talented group can leave both their individual and collective mark on our SU program."
Hampus Bergdahl – Midfielder – Asarum, Sweden – Furulundskola – Captained the Asarums IF youth team in the Swedish Preuier U-19 and U-21 Leagues. Member of the Swedish National Team for the 1995 age group.
Mo Adams – Midfielder – Nottingham, England – Djanogly City Academy – Played for the Derby County FC U-18 team. Also played for Nottingham Forest FC Academy.
Jan Breitenmoser – Midfielder – Wil, Switzerland – Bluefield College – Sophomore transfer from Bleufield College where he started all nineteen games last year and recorded two goals and five assists. Member of the FC St. Gallen U-21 team. Played for the Swiss U-16 National Team.
Sergio Camargo – Midfielder – Cucata, Columbia – Coastal Carolina – Senior transfer from Coastal Carolina where he netted nineteen goals over three seasons. Second Team All-Big South selection. Played for K-W United. Played for Canadian U-17 World Cup Team in 2012.
Kyle Gurrieri – Midfielder – Totowa, New Jersey – Passaic Valley Regional – Ranked by College Soccer News as the number thirty-one player in the class of 2016. Plays for USSDA NJSA team. Former member of the US National Team Residency program. Has played with the U.S. U-17 National Team.
Jake Leahy – Goalkeeper – Brick, New Jersey – The Peddle School – All-Mid Atlantic First Team selection in 2013, 2014, 2015. Plays for Match Fit Academy.
Khedive McIntosh – Midfielder – All-Mid-Atlantic First Team selection. Plays for Match Fit Academy. Played for the New Jersey and Massachusetts ODP Teams.
Johannes Pieles – Forward – Langenbach, Germany – J.C.F. GutsMuths Sportgymnasium – All-State Team selection since 2008. Represented Carl Zeiss Jena in the Regionalliga.
John Austin Ricks – Midfielder – Diablo, California – Monte Vista High School – Played for San Jose Earthquakes U-18 team. Started every contest for San Jose Earthquakes at eight midfield or center back.
Kalifa Sylla – Midfielder – Bronx, New York – Monroe Community College – Transfer from Monroe Community College. A playmaker. Can play in the midfield or up-top.
Prognosis for 2016 – Syracuse entered the 2015 season with several key holes to plug on both sides of the ball. Transfer forward Ben Polk proved to be just what the doctor ordered from an offensive standpoint last year and newcomers Miles Robinson and Kamal Miller very capably filled the gaps in the back. Ditto that for newcomers Austin Aviza and Hendrik Hilpert who took care of the void that existed in goal. With a year of starting experience under their belts all four should be even more productive and composed in 2016.
The Orange look to be in good shape on the defensive side of the ball heading into the 2016 campaign with seniors Liam Callahan and Louis Cross along with sophomores Robinson and Miller slated to return along with Aviza and Hilpert between the pipes.
However Syracuse once again will have a gap to plug on the offensive side of the ball due the the decision of Polk (12g, 4a) and Julian Buescher (8g, 11a) to leave early to take their game to the professional level.
Forward Chris Nanco who is a three-year stater is an established finisher so no problem there. The unanswered question is whether or not others will emerge, like Polk last year, to add additional punch to the attack and share the goal scoring responsibility.
Junior Kenny Lassiter who had a productive spring campaign may prove to be the answer up-top. Transfer attacking midfielder Sergio Camargo is another solid candidate who could prove to be just what the doctor ordered in 2016.
Reloading is required in the midfield and that could be problematic in the early going as some new faces will be counted upon to contribute immediately. However a solid core of capable midfielders led by senior linkman Oyvind Alseth who has been a starter for the past three seasons looks to be on hand to for McIntyre and staff to work with.
Look for Syracuse to continue to play a pressure and possession oriented game in 2016.
The bottom line is that the Orange is likely to experience a learning curve again in 2016. However, the fact that the backline returns intact is a big plus and should reduce the overall length of the learning curve.
Syracuse should once again be very competitive in 2016. Just how competitive will likely come down to the emergence of another goal scorer or two to add balance to the attack, the degree to which the Orange is hungry for continued success, and the ability of McIntyre and his staff to merge all the available pieces together into a unified team.