SU men’s soccer powers through Iona to start season
SU men's soccer shut out Iona
Syracuse men’s soccer opened its season Thursday with a 2-0 win over Iona but it wasn’t without a bit of a fight.
“It feels good to get a win in the first game of the season,” SU head coach Ian McIntrye said. “We knew it was going to be an awkward game.
“Iona set up to frustrate us, and it’s difficult to win a college soccer game.”
Awkward would be putting it lightly. It was clear that Iona’s game plan was to be physical with the Orange, with the Gaels being called for three fouls within the first 4 minutes of play. SU eventually overcame Iona’s rough play, countering with precision passing and dominating the time of possession battle.
After spending most of the first 10 minutes on their own side of the field, SU was able to secure its first goal of the season in the 14th minute, after two consecutive corner kicks immediately beforehand.
It was a transfer-to-transfer connection, with sophomore Nathan Opoku sending a shot right at the top of the 18 into the bottom left corner of the net, with the assist coming from ballyhooed Seattle transfer Levonte Johnson.
Opoku, who started at forward after transferring from NAIA school Lindsey Wilson, figures to be a crucial part of the offensive attack for the Orange. McIntyre has seemingly already tabbed the Ghanaian sophomore as somebody with the potential to put a lot of balls in the back of the net.
“I thought it was great for Nate to score that goal,” McIntyre said. “He probably could have had one or two more.
The physicality persisted throughout the 1st period with both the Gaels and the Orange working out some early game jitters and seemingly having a hard time staying out of each others’ way. Both teams combined for 19 fouls and 3 yellow cards in the first 45 minutes alone.
Sophomore Julius Rauch scored SU’s second goal in the 69th minute, with poor positioning by Iona
defenders essentially gift-wrapping the goal for the Orange.
McIntyre had high praise for the sophomore forward from Dusseldorf, Germany.
“He’s very clean in front of goal,” McIntyre said. “He may not be as athletically as some of our other attacking players, but he’s smart, he’s got good feet, and he can score goals.
“He’s always scored goals at every level he’s played, and that was an important goal.”
The Orange next face Penn State on Sunday at SU Soccer Stadium. The Nittany Lis won both the Big Ten regular-season title and conference tournament last year and are ranked No. 21 in the country in the
United Soccer Coaches preseason poll.
McIntyre hopes Orange fans will show up in force as he expects Sunday’s game to be another battle.
“If you’re a college soccer fan, this’ll be a fun one. We’ll be really tested, and that’s what we wanted to do early in the season. It was nice to get this win under our belt, but to play and test ourselves against a nationally ranked team – the favorites for the Big Ten again this year, a terrific and well-coached team – we’re going to have our hands full.”