SU shoots past UMass in 3-0 victory

Orange players on all sides of the ball contributed in the shutout victory over the Minutemen.

Nick Perea, Stephanos Stamoulacatos and Juuso Pasanen all scored in Syracuse’s 3-0 win over UMass.  While the Orange dominated the scoreboard, they also held advantages in other facets of the game as well.

Syracuse (6-2-0) started brightly, pinning the Minutemen (0-8-1) back. Despite having the territorial advantage however, the Orange did experience some issues in central midfield during the first period. Perea and Pasanen particularly struggled. Both failed to really get on the ball, often being bypassed by Syracuse’s direct play that looked to play the ball over the top.

Photo: Ziniu Chen
#27 Grant Chong goes for a header against UMass's #5 Carlo deMarco.

“I was asleep in the first 15 minutes,” Perea said. “I let my team down and I’m a bit disappointed and annoyed about that.”

Once Syracuse began settling into the game more, and especially in terms of keeping possession, they dominated the flanks. The Orange’s wide play was in fact the secret to their victory. In effect it was the two fullbacks, Jordan Murrell and Oyvind Alseth, who were key in much of the Syracuse’s attacking play.

“There was space because UMass set up to stop us playing,” head coach Ian McIntyre said. “Nanco dragged their players around and that created a lot of space out wide. And Oyvind, especially second half, I thought he did great coming forward.”

Chris Nanco was by far the most dangerous Syracuse player on the pitch. The tricky forward caused the Minutemen all sorts of trouble with his pace, his direct running down the channels, and his quick dribbling in tight spaces. In fact it was his clever footwork that drew the penalty at the 23rd minute for Syracuse. Perea stepped up to the spot. Unfortunately his tame effort was comfortably saved.

“That penalty, I hit it badly,” Perea said. “But once it happens there’s nothing you can do about it, you gotta get over it.”

Only a mere eight minutes after his miss, Perea got the slightest of touches off of Murrell’s finely struck corner to turn the ball in and give Syracuse the lead. The goal had a real positive effect on Perea, as he grew more in confidence throughout the rest of the game.

Just as halftime was approaching, Oyvind beat his man after another marauding run down his right flank. His initial cross was cleared away from the danger zone, but only as far as Stamoulacatos who rifled in a volley to double Syracuse’s lead in the 45th minute.

The onslaught resumed only a few minutes from the restart. Murrell sent in another great cross from a corner-kick, which Pasanen nodded in at the far post. Redemption was complete, as the two central midfielders, Perea and Pasanen,  who had struggled so much in the opening minutes of the game finally got rewarded for their hard work. From that point, the Orange midfield controlled the ball, spread it out to open the pitch and offered great cover for the backline. Syracuse was three goals up and in complete control.

McIntyre subbed off Nanco around 60th minute. The crowd saluted his great performance as he jogged off the pitch, and McIntyre greeted him on the sidelines with a hearty handshake.

UMass never really managed to trouble Syracuse. All the four shots they attempted fell wide of the goal. Bono never really had to stretch himself much except for a wayward cross at the 70th minute, which he vigilantly tipped over the crossbar.

The success of the Orange’s dominant performance today was not simply due to the great performances of the players on the pitch. McIntyre’s tactical judgment in terms of knowing how and where to hurt UMass also aided SU’s performance. Alseth explained the strategy was all about attacking certain spaces to create shots.

“It wasn’t a big change,” Alseth said, “but it might have been the difference that made us play even better tonight.”

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