Syracuse men’s soccer dominates Loyola in one-sided affair

Syracuse men's soccer dominates Loyola in one-sided affair

Star forward Nathan Opoku leads the Orange to victory over Loyola.
Published: October 11, 2022
Wagner v Syracuse
Syracuse goalie Russell Shealy signs autographs after a victory against Wake Forest on Oct. 7.

For a brief moment during Monday night’s match between Loyola (4-4-4) and Syracuse (10-2-1), it seemed that the Greyhounds had a real chance to make a comeback. Several shots on goal to start the second half signaled a momentum swing. Finally, in minute 57, Loyola forward Kelan Swales scored on a penalty kick.

In response, Syracuse head coach Ian McIntyre put the starters back into the game.

Loyola’s hope immediately faded away. They seldom had a chance to score again as the Orange doubled down on the first half’s goal total to win the game 6-1. 

Loyola received the ball to start the match, but they didn’t hold onto it for long. Just three minutes into the game, Syracuse midfielder Giona Leibold sent a cross into the box, which forward Levonte Johnson delivered into the net for his fourth goal of the season. Two minutes later, the Orange added another goal to their lead with midfielder Amferny Sinclair assisting Nathan Opoku for an effortless tap-in.

“As a team, I would say we have a great mentality. We know what we want to achieve together and plan to do something special this year,” Opoku said.

Loyola’s only first-half scoring opportunity came in minute 33. The referee deemed Syracuse defender Buster Sjoberg‘s sliding challenge against Swales a foul, awarding a free kick to the Greyhounds just outside the Syracuse box.  Goalkeeper Russell Shealy covered the shot, but he couldn’t control the ball, which slipped out of his grasp right in front of the net. Loyola forward Daniel Tshiani tried to finish the point, but his high shot was headed away by Sjoberg to end the scoring chance.

In minute 36, Syracuse followed up Loyola’s missed opportunity with an attack of their own. Jeorgio Kocevski and Curt Calov got their names on the stat sheet with a crossing assist and a well-placed header, respectively. 

Calov came close to getting his second goal from a Syracuse throw-in a few minutes later. He received the ball near the corner of the pitch and immediately lost his defender with a spin move. Calov ran down the endline, side-stepping a slide tackle from a Loyola player. The chance ended after the Loyola defense managed to deflect his pass, but Calov’s flashy play was another example of the quality Syracuse showed in the first half.

“I’m very pleased. I thought we started extremely well. It was an excellent first-half performance,” McIntyre said.

In the second half, Loyola started playing well, getting several shots on goal within the first couple of minutes. Shealy was forced to make some difficult saves after an uneventful first half.

Loyola’s minute 57 goal scored on the penalty seemed to indicate a turn, but it was soon apparent that the Orange had nothing to fear. After putting Opoku, Johnson, Leibold, Sinclair and Lorenzo Boselli back onto the pitch, the Orange resumed their commanding performance from the first half. Leibold scored a rocket of a goal in minute 68 to give the Orange the momentum once again.

Opoku made his second goal of the game off a corner kick to widen the Orange’s lead in minute 76. But the last word belonged to sophomore Francesco Pagano in minute 80, scoring from midfielder Camden Holbrook‘s assist.

“We wobbled a little bit to start the second half, so it was good that we got a couple of goals to finish the game,” McIntyre said.

Syracuse will look to follow up on their performance with a road win against Louisville in an ACC matchup on October 14.

“The ability for us to win the conference games will hopefully ensure for us the chance to win in November,” McIntyre said.