By Gabriel Glynn-Habron
Syracuse FC welcomed the New York Shockers into Camden High School for a battle in the North Atlantic Conference on June 10th. The match marked the second meeting between the two teams after a goalless draw back in May. This time around both clubs were looking to separate themselves from a crowded conference table. SFC entered the match with a 0-2-2 record, while the Shockers sat at 1-1-2.
In a similar fashion to their first encounter, the Shockers came out of the gates strong, controlling the ball and creating holes in the SFC defense. In just the fifth minute, the New York Shockers were awarded a corner. Following a pinpoint cross, defenseman Antonio Linge leaped up to head the ball past Syracuse goalkeeper Andrew Taylor, giving the Shockers a 1-0 advantage.
The chances didn’t stop there for the Shockers. Minutes after taking the lead, New York’s Filippo Bellù fired a shot wide of the post following an incisive through-ball between the SFC backline. Along with Bellù, Shockers attackers Adetayo Adefioye and Pedro Espindola found success operating in the half-spaces and making runs in behind the Syracuse backline.
Despite the slow start SFC began to grow into the game, ratcheting up the pressure on the Shockers’ center backs. The Syracuse counterattack looked dangerous all night, particularly on the wings with Conor Baird and Matthew Stasyuk.
Syracuse’s success on the outside finally paid off in the 28th minute when midfielder Scott Schuyler cut back on the right wing, sending a driven cross into the six-yard box. After a brilliant lay-off pass, Mupenzi Irakiza blasted a shot past Shockers goalkeeper Ryan Henning to level the game at 1-1.
Both teams had a chance to take the lead in the closing minutes of the first half. Irakiza once again used his pace to get into a dangerous position for Syracuse, forcing a kick save from Henning on a shot driven across the turf in the 38th minute. Then, in first half stoppage time, New York slid another penetrating through-ball past the Syracuse defense. With seconds dwindling down in the first 45 minutes, Adefioye’s ensuing shot failed to truly challenge Taylor in net, keeping the teams locked at 1-1.
The second half was much more of a defensive game. Syracuse center backs Dylan Killian and Conor McGoldrick adjusted well after the break, helping to neutralize the direct attack of the Shockers.
New York substitute’s Ojay Smith and Jackson Leon injected some pace and quickness into the game midway into the second half. The Shockers best chance came just after the 70th minute, where a deflected shot left the ball bouncing precariously near the mouth of the SFC goal. However, Syracuse’s McGoldrick reacted swiftly, leaving his central role and launching the ball out of the SFC half.
Both clubs let a couple shots from distance fly, but none legitimately troubled either goalkeeper. With just a couple of minutes left in the matchup, New York mounted a couple of counterattacks that ultimately fizzled out because of stout defending or errant passes. SFC earned a corner in added time but the Shockers managed the incoming cross well, avoiding any last-minute threats.
After a balanced final 45 minutes, the match finished 1-1. Syracuse FC is back in action against Kingston Stockade FC on June 14th, while the New York Shockers take the field again on June 17th with a matchup against Hartford City FC.
Photo Credit: Ethan Hayner and Kaylyn Rose