SYRACUSE, N.Y. (SYRACUSE ATHLETICS) –
Syracuse men’s soccer dropped its first match of the season in a 1-0 loss to Virginia. The Orange played most of the match with ten players after junior midfielder Jeorgio Kocevski was shown a second yellow card at the 22nd minute mark.
Abdi Salim, Buster Sjoberg, and Olu Oyegunle defended excellently after going down to ten men. Oyegunle made several key stops inside the penalty area, while Sjoberg and Salim were able to shut down the Cavalier attack for 85 minutes.
Virginia scored the winning goal in the 85th minute of action. Junior forward Leo Alfonso found free space on the wing and lobbed a shot out of Russell Shealy’s reach. The strike is just the third goal Syracuse has conceded all season. Just moments later, sophomore midfielder Giona Leibold came close to rescuing a point for the Orange, but his shot drifted just wide of the crossbar.
The Cavaliers outshot the Orange 14-10 and registered four shots on target compared to Syracuse’s three. Virginia committed 12 fouls while Syracuse registered 15. Nine different players were shown a yellow card in the 90 minutes.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
Physical, intense play defined the contest between Syracuse (7-1-1, 2-1-0) and Virginia (6-3-0, 2-1-0). From the first whistle, both sides tried to maintain possession in midfield with strong challenges. Both teams were shown yellow cards in the first ten minutes of play. Virginia defender Reese Miller was booked in the seventh minute, then Kocevski was given a yellow card just a minute later.
The match was back-and-forth until the Orange were delt a blow in the 22nd minute. After a tough challenge, Kocevski was shown a second yellow card and was disqualified for the rest of the game. The momentum of the match shifted, as Syracuse had to finish the contest with ten men. The Orange sat back to mitigate the Cavalier attack.
Despite playing with ten, Syracuse was only outshot 7-5 by Virginia in the first half.
In the second half, the Orange tried to hit the Cavaliers on the counterattack. Nathan Opoku, Levonte Johnson, and Curt Calov tried to create chances by moving the ball quickly against Virginia’s backline.
Stellar play from Syracuse’s defense and Shealy kept the score line at zero until the 85th minute. Afonso was able cut in on his left foot in the penalty area, and hit a dipping shot into the top left corner of the net.
Syracuse would come inches of away from stealing a point in the 87th minute. Impressive dribbling and agility allowed Leibold to find a crease in the Virginia defense. The German midfielder let a shot go with his right foot, but it drifted just wide of the crossbar.
Syracuse’s five-match win streak was snapped with the 1-0 defeat to Virginia. It was the longest winning streak since 2016.
The Orange were held to a clean sheet for the first time against Virginia. ‘Cuse scored in the previous eight matches, the longest streak since the Orange scored in nine consecutive matches in 2016.
‘Cuse have only allowed three goals in nine matches. That’s the lowest total to start a season since 2014.
Leibold and Noah Singelmann returned to the starting lineup against Virginia.
Syracuse has a six-day break before hitting the road for a match at Virginia Tech on Friday, Sept. 30th. Kick-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. and the match will be streaming live on ACC Network Extra. The Orange return to the SU Soccer Stadium on Tuesday, Oct. 4 at 7 p.m. for a nonconference clash against Cornell.