SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Syracuse men’s soccer extended its win streak to five with a hard-fought 2-0 win over in-state foe Colgate. The five-match win streak is the longest since 2016, and the 7-0-1 start is the best since 2016 as well.
After a tense beginning portion of the match, Nathan Opoku broke the deadlock with a stunning strike in the 35th minute. Levonte Johnson was in on the assist. Jeorgio Kocevski doubled the lead late in the second half with a curler outside of the box.
The Orange kept their sixth clean sheet of the season and have only allowed two goals on the season. Syracuse’s goalkeeper Russell Shealy and a backline of Abdi Salim, Buster Sjoberg, Christian Curti and Olu Oyegunle contained the Colgate attack. The Raiders only took eight shots, with three of them being on target.
“I know how difficult it is to get a result against Colgate midweek,” head coach Ian McIntyre said after the match “Erik is a wonderful coach, for us it was important to get a win and keep it going”
HOW IT HAPPENED:
The first 30 minutes was defined by a stop-and-start tempo, with both sides struggling to maintain and control possession. Johnson and midfielder Curt Calov were able to find space on the wings but couldn’t convert that space into tangible chances.
Syracuse found the breakthrough with a little over ten minutes left in the first half. Opoku sent an excellent pass to Johnson on the edge of the box. The Brampton, Ontario native held up play effectively, allowing for Opoku to make a run into the penalty area. Johnson slid him a perfect pass, and Opoku slotted the chance into the back of the net to push the Orange ahead.
At the halftime break, Syracuse was outshot 4-3 by Colgate. Heading into the second half, the Orange were more aggressive, creating more chances in the attacking half.
The Orange came close to doubling their lead multiple times in the second half. Calov’s direct free kick was saved by Colgate keeper Andrew Cooke. Moments later, Francesco Pagano’s shot in front of net drifted just left of the goal.
A moment of brilliance from Kocevski doubled ‘Cuse’s lead in the 82nd minute. Excellent build-up play led to Kocevski possessing the ball outside the box. The Liverpool, New York native hit a curling shot to the top right corner, and Cooke had no chance of making the save. Kocevski has scored in back-to-back matches for the first time of his career.
Syracuse outshot Colgate 9-8 on the night and took four corners compared to the Raider’s two. Johnson assisted the first goal, while Lorenzo Boselli assisted Kocevski on the second.
Syracuse is off to a 7-0-1 start, the best start to a season since 2016.
The Orange have won five straight matches since drawing 1-1 on the road against Vermont on Sept. 3rd. That is the longest winning streak since the Orange started the season 8-0-0 in 2016.
Syracuse is No. 3 in the latest United Soccer Coaches Poll. That is the highest poll position for the Orange since they were No. 2 on Sept. 20 in 2016.
‘Cuse have allowed two goals in eights matches to start this season. That is the best defensive record in the ACC, and the lowest goals allowed in the first eight matches since 2014.
Shealy’s Goals Against Average for the season is .290, which is on pace to set a new school record.
Johnson and Opoku are tied for the squad lead in goals with three each.
Kocevski has scored in back-to-back matches for the first time in his Syracuse career.
Syracuse heads back to the SU Soccer Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 24 at 7 p.m. to resume ACC play against Virginia. The Orange then have a six-day break before traveling to Virginia Tech on Friday, Sept. 30 at 6 p.m. Both matches will be streaming live on ACCNX.