LOUISVILLE, K.Y. – (SYRACUSE ATHLETICS) –

Clinical attacking performances from Nathan Opoku and Levonte Johnson sparked No. 5 Syracuse men’s soccer in a critical 2-1 road win against No. 11 Louisville. The Orange cushioned their first-place lead in the Atlantic Division race. Syracuse has 15 points, five clear of second-place Louisville. There are just two conference matches remaining on Syracuse’s schedule. The Orange travel to NC State on Oct. 22 before wrapping up the season against Atlantic Coast Conference rival Boston College on Oct. 28.

Syracuse is 11-2-1 on the season, which is the best record through 14 matches since 2014. The Orange are 5-1 against ranked opponents, winning the most games against top-25 foes in a single regular season in head coach Ian McIntyre’s tenure.

Opoku grabbed the lead in the 18th minute of action. Johnson doubled the Orange advantage in the 29th minute.

Syracuse prevented a Louisville comeback late in the match. With just 13 minutes left in the contest, junior midfielder Jeorgio Kocevski received a red card, ejecting him from the match. Josh Jones scored a goal in the 89th minute, but Syracuse’s defense of Abdi Salim, Buster Sjoberg, and Christian Curti secured the three points with heroic defending.

“To come to a place like this, with a lot on the line, and get the three points is terrific,” head coach Ian McIntyre said after the match. “I thought we started the match extremely well and we deserve the three points.”

HOW IT HAPPENED:

Both sides traded possession and attacking opportunities in the first 15 minutes of the match. Syracuse used the athleticism of its wing backs Giona Leibold and Noah Singelmann to find space out wide. Louisville tried to attack the Orange backline with counterattacks and direct passing.

After dominating possession and being the more dangerous side, Syracuse found the breakthrough in the 18th minute. Johnson controlled the ball on the edge of the box and fed a ball through to his attacking partner Opoku. The Accra, Ghana native shook off a Louisville defender, then ripped a shot with his right foot into the back of the net. Opoku now has eight goals on the season, which lead the team and the ACC.

Following the first goal, Syracuse took full control of the match. Kocevski and Amferny Sinclair pulled the strings in the midfield, controlling possession and constantly winning the ball. Syracuse’s backline of Salim, Sjoberg and Curti closed Louisville’s attacking channels.

The second goal arrived in the 29th minute. Forward Lorenzo Boselli worked hard in the midfield, tracking back to win the ball from Louisville’s Sander Roed. The Italian attacker turned quickly and fired an inch-perfect lobbed pass to Johnson towards goal. The Brampton, Ontario native dashed pass the Louisville defense and shot the ball out of Ryan Troutman’s reach.

Syracuse and Louisville both took five shots in the first half, as Shealy was forced to make a single save in the first 45 minutes.

The Orange continued its first-half form in the second portion of the contest. ‘Cuse sustained pressure on the hosts, coming close to adding a third goal on multiple occasions. In the 59th minute, Leibold’s quick feet opened space near goal. The German wingback’s shot was saved by Louisville’s Troutman.

The match took a turn in the 77th minute, as Kocevski clashed with a Louisville midfielder. The Liverpool, New York native was shown a second yellow-card, forcing ‘Cuse to play with 10 men for the last 13 minutes.

Louisville pulled a goal back in the 89th minute. The hosts were awarded a free kick deep in Syracuse’s half. Sander hit a ball towards Shealy, but the veteran keeper spilled the ball, as Josh Jones converted the chance. The comeback would ultimately fall-short, as Syracuse held on for the 2-1 victory.

The Orange and the Cardinals both finished with 11 shots, as Syracuse registered five shots on target compared to Louisville’s three.

OF NOTE:

Syracuse is 11-2-1, which is the best record through 14 matches since 2014.

Shealy now has 100 saves in his collegiate career.

The Orange are 5-1 against ranked opponents in 2022. Last season, Syracuse went 1-4 against ranked opponents.

Syracuse is 5-0-1 away from the SU Soccer Stadium. ‘Cuse has a +12-goal difference on the road. A team has never finished a season undefeated on the road in the McIntyre era.

Opoku has eight goals on the season. He leads the team and the ACC in scoring.

Syracuse’s 2-1 victory against Louisville is the second win over a top-10 RPI squad. The first was against Clemson.

UP NEXT:

The Orange return to the SU Soccer Stadium on Tuesday, Oct. 18 at 7 p.m. against Bucknell for the final nonconference match of the 2022 season. ‘Cuse follows that match with a road trip to NC State on Saturday, Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. Both matches will be streaming live on ACCNX.