SYRACUSE, N.Y. (SU ATHLETICS) –
Syracuse men’s soccer advances to the NCAA Championship Elite 8 for the first time since 2015, as a late goal from Giona Leibold pushed the Orange past Cornell 1-0 in the NCAA Championship Third Round.
Leibold won the match in the 84th minute, as redshirt-senior goalkeeper Russell Shealy saved a Cornell shot and immediately sent Leibold on the counterattack with a throw. The German wingback dribbled past a defender and converted the match winner.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
With the slippery playing conditions, neither team could find a consistent attacking rhythm. Without regular starting midfielder senior Amferny Sinclair, fellow veteran Noah Singelmann moved into the midfield pivot with Jeorgio Kocevski. Sophomore forward Curt Calov started at right wingback.
Syracuse (16-2-4, 5-1-2 ACC) came close to pulling ahead in the 25th minute. The Orange were awarded a free kick in the attacking half after Conrell’s (14-4-1, 5-1-1 IVY) Lalo Serrano tripped Levonte Johnson outside the penalty box. Calov ripped a shot directly from the free kick, but the shot drifted just wide of the left post.
The Orange kept pushing forward throughout the first 45 minutes. Johnson was able to find a crease in the Big Red defense, dribbling past a defender to create space in the penalty area. The Brampton, Ontario native shot towards the near post, but Cornell goalkeeper Ryan Friedberg was able to stop the shot.
Heading into the halftime break, Syracuse took seven shots compared to Cornell’s three. The Orange defense of Abdi Salim, Christian Curti and Olu Oyegunle held the Big Red to just a single shot target in the first half.
When the match resumed for the second half, Syracuse continued to push numbers forward on the attack, as ‘Cuse took the first four shots of the half.
The Orange almost found the go-ahead strike in the 54th minute. Calov controlled the ball on the wing, and cut in onto his left foot, dancing past Cornell defender Connor Drought. The Morristown, New Jersey native floated a shot toward the top left corner of the net, but Friedberg just got a fingertip on the ball.
With just seven minutes left in the match, Syracuse found the match-winning goal. Cornell came close to pulling ahead off a corner kick, but Shealy stepped in front of Nick Allen’s header. The Cartersville, Georgia native looked up-field and found Leibold in space. The German wingback controlled the ball, glided past one defender, then flew by a second before slotting home the winning goal.
Syracuse finished with 16 shots, four of them on goal. Salim, Curti and Oyegunle were stout defensively, as the trio kept Syracuse’s 11th shutout of the season.
-Syracuse advances to the Elite 8 for the second time in school history, all under the direction of Coach McIntyre.
-The Orange have won 16 matches this season, which is tied with the 2015 squad for the second-most victories in a season.
-Shealy recorded his first career assist.
-Leibold has five goals on the season.
-The Orange kept their 11th shutout of the season, tied for first in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Syracuse will host Vermont in the NCAA Championship Quarterfinal next weekend. The Orange will appear in an Elite 8 match for the second time in program history.