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Colin Biros stood over the ball next to the corner flag catching his breath after Syracuse’s most dramatic opening two minutes of the season.
Syracuse routinely played the ball back to Noah Singelmann, who was supposed to routinely send a long ball down the right side of the field off the opening whistle. But Vermont brought on immediate high pressure as Arian Pilja blocked the ball going forward. Vermont then took control over the ball in Syracuse’s half and earned an early free kick.
Off the free kick, SU was able to clear the ball upfield and into the Vermont box where the Catamounts conceded the corner.
Biros opted for the short corner kick to Giona Leibold at the top left edge of the penalty box. His service found the head of Max Kent near the right post. Kent’s header was redirected centrally to the head of an unmarked Manel Busquets, who bent down to send the ball into the bottom left corner for his second goal of the season.
“This game had that kind of intensity and physicality of a playoff game, and it didn’t disappoint,” head coach Ian McIntyre said. “Straight from the kick-off they jumped all over us and were physically up for this game.”
Syracuse (5-4-1, 1-2 Atlantic Coast) snapped its three-game winless streak with a 5-2 win over Vermont (5-3-1, 1-0 America East) on Tuesday. Vermont, who leads its conference in total shots, was held to eight shots and conceded its highest goal total of the season.
Leibold generated the run into the final third on Syracuse’s second goal, just under five minutes later. He orchestrated a perfectly timed give-and-go sequence with Francesco Pagano, which Leibold ran onto without pressure and space to carry the ball down the left wing. Leibold sent a cross into the box, a low, slow-rolling ball along the grass found the feet of Busquets.
With his back to goal, Busquets fought off the defender directly behind him, turning halfway toward goal and playing Biros into space near the penalty spot. Biros’ first touch got away from him, but he followed it up with his second touch being a shot on goal, rolling into the bottom right corner to give the Orange an early 2-0 lead.
“We always try to put the bigger guy like Max (Kent) to try and set up the ball to get it back in the box,” Busquets said. “That’s what he did, and I was there to finish it. Always be ready for the second ball and if you can score goals like that, you can win the game.”
Syracuse’s third goal, which came 10 minutes later, was the only one that wasn’t off a cross or set piece. This time, the Orange built up centrally through Pagano who had the ball roughly 30 yards from goal. He took the ball to the top of the box and laid the ball off for Biros who fired a low shot on goal.
Vermont goalkeeper Nate Silveira was forced to make a diving save, spilling a rebound in the process. The loose ball found Pagano who slotted a first-time tap-in into an empty right corner, with the ball deflecting off a sliding Catamount defender on its way in to give SU a 3-1 lead.
The Catamounts scored both their goals from the penalty spot. Their first-half spot kick came from Nacho Lerech, who earned the spot kick himself. Lerech took on Buster Sjoberg along the left side of the box, performing two scissor step overs before cutting to his left and taking a big touch into the box. Sjoberg shouldered Lerech, knocking him down, which was enough to sway the referee to point to the penalty spot and cut Syracuse’s lead in half.
“The first (penalty) I question, the second I don’t,” McIntyre said. “The first one though, it gave (Vermont) life. We responded really well to make it 3-1.”
Just under 10 minutes into the second half, the referee pointed to the spot once again as a Vermont through ball caught Kent trailing Catamounts forward Matt Black, tripping him from behind for an obvious penalty, which resulted in a booking for the SU captain. Black perfectly slotted the penalty into the right corner, which Lucas Daunhauer guessed the wrong way on again.
Kent redeemed himself on Syracuse’s fourth goal. After Vermont’s Yves Borie fouled Luke Biasi near the end line right outside the right side of the penalty box, Syracuse took the free kick short. With a lot of numbers in the box, the ball went to Biros who lobbed a cross into the penalty box. The ball found the head of a surging Kent who beat an onrushing Silveira to the ball, heading it between his hands and in.
“There was definitely a part of me that was frustrated about the (penalty kick),” Kent said. “At that point I was like, ‘I’m going to go up and win it’ and use my height for once in the final third rather than just the defensive third.”
The game’s intensity increased in the second half, with four of the game’s seven yellow cards coming in the final 45 minutes. Seventeen combined fouls contributed to the free kicks and the penalty kick that benefited either side.
But the second half’s best set-piece opportunity favored Syracuse. Curt Calov lined up a 20-yard free kick right along the box’s semi-circle, as a four-man wall stood in front of him. He approached the ball, striking it perfectly with the inside of his right foot, dipping it over the wall and leaving Silveira frozen inside the goal box, which sealed yet another high-scoring win for the Orange.
It was Syracuse’s third game in its last five where it has scored at least four goals, as Syracuse has seemingly found answers to cope with the loss of its leading goal scorer, Deandre Kerr, who left the Sep.17 contest against Louisville with an injury.
Syracuse, likely without Kerr, will face its third-ranked ACC opponent of the season in just three days as it travels to face Pittsburgh. But McIntyre believes nonconference victories are just as important for his players, especially after an offensive driven win over the Catamounts, who began the season 5-0, outscoring their opponents 10-0,
“It wasn’t pretty at times, but if you had said to me that we would’ve had a chance to beat a quality Vermont team 5-2, I would’ve ripped your arm off,” McIntyre said.
The post Syracuse snaps 3-game losing streak with 5-2 win over Vermont appeared first on The Daily Orange.