Men's soccer hold on to beat Villanova

By Peter Benson

Syracuse men’s soccer held on to beat Villanova Univeresity 2-1 Wednesday night at Syracuse University Soccer Stadium.

The teams jostled for early supremacy, before the technical superiority of The Orange took hold of the game around the 25-minute mark.

The control paid off in the 35th minute, when freshman Tajon Buchanan took advantage of an errant back pass to the Villanova goalkeeper. Buchanan reached the ball first and turned it away from the Villanova keeper before lifting the ball into the goal with his left foot.

Almost exactly three minutes after opening the scoring, Syracuse scored again to take a 2-0 lead. This time defender Kamal Miller scored from a Hugo Delhommelle free-kick from the deep right wing. Miller rose above the Villanova defense and beat the keeper with a powerful header from less than six yards out.

“Coach always emphasizes how important it is, taking some pressure off the forwards by chipping in with goals from the back,” Miller said.

Miller now has two goals in two scrimmage games; the same amount he scored all of last year in competitive play.

The second half started with Syracuse continuing to dominate the ball. Villanova then  started to gain a foothold towards the 50-minute mark. Head coach Ian McIntyre switched from a three-back formation to a more traditional four-man back line to counter the Wildcats’ extra man in midfield.

“We went a little bit more aggressive with some of our defending," McIntyre said.

“They moved the ball very well.”

It was that movement that cost Syracuse a goal. After a pass from Miller, left midfielder Mo Adams was in a difficult spot between two Villanova players. Adams lost the ball, which led to a quick Villanova counterattack. Wildcat Jack Gillam picked up the ball on the left side and put a cross into the center of the box where midfielder Zach Zandi was waiting to score from close range, making the score 2-1.

The game changed after the goal, with Villanova creating several chances. After multiple possessions, Syracuse regained some of its composure.

In the final ten minutes, Syracuse again fell under pressure after a flurry of Villanova chances. Miller, a junior captain, tried to keep his teammates calm during the late onslaught.

“When our back’s up against the wall like that, we try to take it step by step,” Miller said.

Coach McIntyre said that, while it’s a preseason game, it’s always good to win. He understands that there’s still work to do to improve.

“We rode our luck towards the end of the game,” McIntyre said. “We had a lot of young faces and were a little bit naive in managing the game.”

McIntyre and the Orange will have another chance to improve on Saturday in the team’s final preseason game at Maryland. That game is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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