CLEMSON, S.C. (SU ATHLETICS) –
In a season with signature moments against ranked teams Penn State and Notre Dame, Syracuse men’s soccer added a marquee road win to its resume with a 2-1 victory over defending national champion and No. 1 Clemson.
The Tigers opened the scoring in the eighth minute with a strike from Isaiah Reid. The Orange took control of the match from there. After a critical error from the Clemson backline, senior forward Levonte Johnson assisted junior midfielder Jeorgio Kocevski to draw the score level at one.
Johnson scored the game winner in the 48th minute of play after a brilliant run found him one-on-one with Clemson goalkeeper Trevor Manion.
The Orange outshot the Tigers, 20-12, on the night, and ‘Cuse goalkeeper Russell Shealy was instrumental in securing the key road win. The redshirt senior tied a career high in saves with six.
“We deserved to get something from this game,” said Syracuse head coach Ian McIntyre after the win, “To go behind early in a game and respond the way we did, I am very proud of the guys. This was an important win for us. We’ll enjoy this tonight as a group, then it will be a huge regional matchup against Colgate.”
In the first portion of action, both squads traded attacking chances as the tempo was end-to-end from the opening whistle. Clemson (6-1-0, 1-1-0) would find the breakthrough in the eighth minute of play from junior midfielder Reid.
After the opening goal, Syracuse (6-0-1, 2-0-0) kept increasing the intensity of its attack, pressing the Clemson backline, and forcing the Tigers into making mistakes. In the 18th minute, the Orange capitalized on one of those Clemson misfires. After a misplayed Tiger clearance on the goal line, Johnson pounced on the ball in the penalty box. He sent a pass to Kocevski, who dribbled past the keeper and fired the ball into the net to equalize.
Heading into the halftime break, Syracuse outshot Clemson, 10-4. As the second half opened, the Orange did not drop that intensity, relying on the passing range of senior midfielder Amferny Sinclair and dribbling ability of Nathan Opoku to find attacking chances in the second half.
Just three minutes into the second period of play, a brilliant run from Johnson down the right wing found him in a one-on-one with Manion. The veteran forward from Brampton, Ontario fired the ball out of the reach of Manion to put ‘Cuse in front.
In the last 30 minutes of action, Shealy and a backline of Buster Sjoberg, Christian Curti, Abdi Salim and Olu Oyegunle secured the win with heroic defending and shot stopping.
Shealy preserved the Syracuse advantage with two major saves in the second half. In the 55th minute of action, he used his feet to prevent Reid from getting a second goal. In the 84th minute of play, Clemson worked the ball wide to set up a crossing opportunity. The ball was sent into the box as Reid headed a shot towards goal, but Shealy snatched the ball to secure the three points.
Syracuse outshot Clemson, 20-12, on the night and snapped Clemson’s 11-match winning streak, which dated back to last season’s ACC Tournament.
The win marks Syracuse’s first win over a No. 1 ranked opponent since 2018, when the Orange took down No. 1 Wake Forest 2-0 at home.
Syracuse has won back-to-back matches against Clemson.
The victory marks the fourth straight win for the Orange.
Syracuse is 6-0-1 to open the season. That marks the best start to a season since 2016.
The Orange have only conceded two goals in seven games. That marks the best defensive record to start a season since 2014.
Shealy tied a career high in saves with six, while Kocevski scored his first goal of the 2022 campaign.
Syracuse will hit the road again to face non-conference opponent Colgate on Tuesday , Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. Following that match, the Orange will return home to square off against ACC foe Virginia on Saturday, Sept. 24 at 7 p.m. Admission to the match is free.