The Orange Are Coming Off an 8-8-2 Overall Record And 2-5-1 Mark in ACC Play In 2021.
Deandre Kerr – Forward – Had four goals and four assists in 2020. Had nine goals and three assists in 2021. ACC All-Freshman Team selection in 2020. First-Team All-ACC Team selection in 2021. Was Syracuse’s top goal scorer in 2020 and 2021. Kerr departed at the end of his sophomore season to enter the professional ranks.
Manel Busquets – Forward – Two-year starter after transferring in from Duquesne University. Scored six goals and contributed two assists in 2021. Played in 30 games with 18 starts over two seasons.
Hilli Goldhar – Midfielder – Three-year starter. Played in 59 career games with 41 starts. Had four career goals and 14 career contributions.
Max Kent – Defender – Played in 16 games with 14 starts in 2021. Transferred in as graduate student after playing his undergraduate career at Macalester College. Had two goals and one assist in 2021.
Luke Biasi – Defender – Played in 18 games with 17 starts in 2021. Transferred in as a graduate student in 2021 after playing for the University of Memphis during his undergraduate career.
Opportunity For Improvement
The ability to close out the close contests that eluded the Orange in 2021.
Coaches Recruiting Class Comment
Coach McIntyre stated, “These young men have each succeeded on the soccer pitch and in the classroom. They understand what it takes to be a Syracuse soccer player, and they will take tremendous pride in representing Syracuse University while fully embracing the challenges and demands that we place upon our student-athletes.
The first order of business will be replacing the firepower that forwards Deandre Kerr (9g, 3a) and Manel Busquets (6g, 2a) provided. Kerr, a 2021 All-ACC First Team selection, entered the professional ranks after leading the Orange in goals scored in 2020 and 2021. Busquets was a two-year starter after transferring in from Duquesne. Their departure means that Syracuse will have to depend on a number of new faces to power the attack in the final third in 2022. The good news is that there is no shortage of candidates with the potential to fill the void that exists.
Sophomore forward Curt Calov (5g, 1a) is a dynamic goal scorer with the creativity in the final third that can cause matchup problems for opposing defenders. Sophomore forward Francesco Pagano (4g, 0a) who was an impact player off the bench last year is well positioned to play a greater role in 2022. Sophomore forward Giona Leibold also had a productive freshman season during which he contributed five assists. Leibold’s ability to push forward on the flank at speed adds another dimension to the attack.
The Orange have added three transfers with the potential to make an immediate impact. Senior forward Levonte Johnson transfers in from Seattle University where he scored nine goals and contributed eight assists last year. Johnson was a United Soccer Coaches Association All-Far West First Team selection. Junior forward Nathaniel Opoku transfers in from Lindsey Wilson where he was named a 2021 NAIA All-American and the Mid-South Conference Player of the Year after a 16 goal and 5 assist season. Junior midfielder Lorenzo Boselli is a transfer from Dallas College Richland where he was a two-time NJCAA All-American and the 2021 NJCAA Player of the Year. Johnson and Boselli got a jump on the transition by joining the program in the spring.
The starting position in goal looks to be up for grabs with redshirt senior Russell Shealy who had a 0.85 goals against average and graduate student Lucas Daunhauer who had a 1.43 goals against average returning. Both are experienced netminders who started nine games in 2021.
The Orange must replace 2021 starting backs Max Kent (2g, 1a) and Luke Biasi (0g, 1a) who transferred in last year for a single season. On the plus side of the ledger, senior Buster Sjoberg (0g, 1a) who was a starter last year after transferring in from Wofford and junior Abdi Salim who was a starter in 2020 but missed the 2021 season due to injury return to anchor the backline.
Sophomore back Olu Oyegunle, who now has a year of playing experience under his belt, is a physical and athletic defender who looks to be in the hunt for a more prominent role in 2022. Seniors Christian Curti (2g, 0a) and Camden Holbrook are among other returning backs who figure to be in the mix.
Newcomers Gavin Wigg who transfers in from Western Michigan and graduate student Louie Bulger who transfers in from Butler are experienced backs who will add depth and likely compete for a starting position.
Four factors to keep in mind in regard to Syracuse in 2022.
One. Syracuse has had a great deal of success since Ian McIntyre became the head coach in 2010. In addition, a good number of Orange players have had successful professional careers with many of them departing early over the last eight years to enter the MLS. That speaks well of the program and is a plus but it can be problematic at times.
McIntyre and his staff do a good job of annually filling the voids that exist but the bottom line is that no program is immune from the fact that overtime the cumulative impact of the early departure of key players can at times hamper the continuity and consistency of play of a team.
In that regard, the Orange were 2-7-4 overall in 2020 and 8-8-2 overall in 2021. They were absent from the NCAA Tournament field in both seasons after having earned a berth in six of the prior eight seasons. Despite the early departure of All-ACC First Team forward Deandre Kerr, Syracuse looks to be a more balanced, experienced, and deep team in 2022 than they were in 2020 and 2021.
Two. The departure of Kerr will likely result in an attack that will depend more on the combined talents and contribution of several players. The bump in the level of play that sophomore forwards Curt Calov, Francesco Pagano and Giona Leibold get from a year of experience and the ability of transfers Levonte Johnson, Nathaniel Opoku and Lorenzo Boselli to quickly and effectively merge into the team look to be among the critical success factors on the offensive side of the ball. Last year Syracuse outshot their opponents in almost all of their contests but it didn’t always convert into an advantage in terms of goals scored.
Three. Improvement is contingent upon Syracuse’s ability as a team to collectively learn how to consistently win ACC matches. The margin of error in the ACC is razor thin. Last year the Orange lost five ACC games by one goal and three of those five matches were decided in overtime. Syracuse looks to be a stronger team from top to bottom in 2022 in terms of the talent, stamina, and balance of the program which should enhance their ability to put in the full 90 minutes of play needed to close out close contests.
Four. Last year Syracuse held opponents to an average of 1.17 goals allowed per game. Not bad and an improvement over the 1.54 goals allowed per game in 2020. However this is an area where continued improvement is warranted particularly in ACC play. The return of back Abdi Salim who missed the 2021 season due to injury is a plus. Salim combines with Buster Sjoberg to anchor the backline. The healthy return of Salim and the experience others gained last year bodes well for continued improvement on the defensive side of the ball in 2022.
Lorenzo Boselli – Forward – Bregano, Italy – Dallas College Richland Campus – Junior transfer from Dallas College Richland Campus where he was a two-time NJCAA All-American and the 2021 NJCAA Player of the Year. Scored 44 goals and contributed 22 assists during three seasons at Dallas College Richland.
Levonte Johnson – Forward – Brampton, Ontario – Senior forward from Seattle University where he scored nine goals and added eight assists in 2021. A 2021 All-WAC Second Team selectin and All-WAC Tournament Team selection. Selected to United Soccer Coaches All-Far West Region First Team. Prior to Seattle he played for NJCAA Salt Lake City and was a 2020 First-Team All-American. In 2019 he played for Eastern Florida State scoring ten goals and recording four assists.
Antonino Pagano – Midfielder – Manlius, New York – Fayetteville-Manlius High School – Named a 2021 High School All-American. Had 68 career goals and 27 career assists at Fayetteville-Manlius High School.
Gavin Wigg – Defender – Columbus, Ohio – Dublin Scioto High School. Sophomore transfer from Western Michigan where he played in 26 games over the past two seasons. A two-time First-Team All-OCC selection at Dublin Scioto High School. Played club soccer for Ohio Premier.
Louie Bulger – Defender – Tokyo, Japan – William Mason High School – Graduate student transfer from Butler. William Mason High School – Played in 51 games with 34 starts during three seasons at Butler. Redshirted the 2020 season (spring 2021) due to injury.
Nathaniel Opoku – Forward – Accra, Ghana – Junior transfer from Lindsey Wilson where he was an NAIA All-American Second-Team All-American. Had 19 goals and 5 assists during 2021 season.
Andrea Di Blasio – Forward – Maspeth, New York – Played for Met Oval Academy. Played for New York Cosmos.
Trevor Carabin – Midfielder – Stouffville, Ontario – Played for Vaughan Soccer Club.
Noah Lechelt – Midfielder – Edmonton, Alberta – Played for Edmonton Juventus.
Marc Chin – Defender – Oviedo, Florida – Played for Monteverde International FC.
Jaheim Wickham – Goalkeeper – Played for Toronto FC.
Sam Coss – Goalkeeper – Bowie, Maryland – Bowie High School – Played for Baltimore Armour Academy.