SU Men's Soccer vs. Northwestern

Early goals boost Syracuse past Northwestern

Three goals in the opening 20 minutes of a rain-soaked first half powered the No. 8 Syracuse men’s soccer team to a 3-1 victory over Northwestern.

Three goals in the opening 20 minutes of a rain-soaked first half powered the No. 8 Syracuse men’s soccer team to a 3-1 victory over Northwestern on Sunday night at a soggy SU Soccer Stadium.

The Orange improved to 3-0-1 with the victory while the Wildcats fell to 1-3.

Photo: Riley Bunch
SU Men's Soccer dominated Northwestern 3-1 in the rain on Sunday night, scoring three goals in the first 20 minutes of the match.

SU needed just 54 seconds to take the lead, as Tajon Buchanan found Adnan Bakalovic at the back post for a tap-in with less than a minute gone. Buchanan shook a pair of defenders before sliding a low ball toward the left post where Bakalovic arrived just in time to sweep the Orange into the lead.

Less than 10 minutes later, Syracuse doubled its advantage. John-Austin Ricks started the move, connecting with Johannes Pieles on a run toward the right corner flag. Pieles turned a low cross into the middle, where Jonathan Hagman curled a first-touch finish into the bottom-right corner of the net.

Pieles was again the provider in the 19th minute, this time lofting a high cross from the right side. Buchanan got his head to the ball ahead of charging Northwestern goalkeeper Miha Miskovic, redirecting the ball into an empty net from 12 yards.

Syracuse head coach Ian McIntyre said the early goals came from quality possession in the attacking half. “Our ball movement was good,” McIntyre said. “When we stretched them wide it opened up some holes in their back four. And that final ball was really in there tonight.”

Mo Adams played in a defensive midfield role, picking apart the Wildcats defense from deep. He credited the Orange’s front three of Buchanan, Pieles, and Hugo Delhommelle for SU's stellar play up front.

“The forward line is frightening. There’s pace, there’s power, and there’s technical ability,” Adams said. “For me when I receive the ball, there’s Hugo dropping in the pocket, Tajon’s running in behind, and Johannes looking for the holdup play. They are three very different players but they work very well together.”

At halftime, the Orange led Northwestern 8-1 in shots and 5-2 in corners.

Despite controlling play throughout, SU was unable to find the net again. Northwestern, however, did score. The Wildcats’ Jake Roberge got his head on a corner kick in the 64th minute to pull Northwestern within two at 3-1.

Adams voiced frustration with the defense allowing second-half goals in each of the first four games.

“I think it’s a bit of a focus issue. The last few games we have started the second half pretty poorly, and today we managed to be okay,” Adams said. “But we knew it’s Northwestern, if they are going to score it’s going to be from a set piece. I think we could have defended it better.”

Still, McIntyre was happy to close out the 3-1 victory.

“We will build on this. This was an important step for us,” McIntyre said. “We’re still a work in progress. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us. But you can also see there are a lot of pieces there.” The Orange return to action on Friday, visiting Virginia in the ACC opener for both teams.

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