Syracuse FC played their final match of the 2017 inaugural season on a sunny evening in early July. It was an entertaining match for the 1,369 in attendance, who came to cheer on their new hometown team at OCC’s David W. Murphy Field. SFC was attempting to extend its unbeaten-at-home streak to five games on Friday night, but even the passion of the fans couldn’t help repress the Fort Pitt Regiment. Syracuse FC was defeated by a score of 0-2 following the tight match, giving them an inaugural season home record of 3-1-3.
Following Fort Pitt’s opening kick, solid team defense by SFC in the first ten minutes eliminated all of Fort Pitt’s offensive chances. Throughout the first 45 minutes, SFC played with aggression that resulted in a number of scoring opportunities, but none were able to put the home team on the scoreboard.
The ninth minute saw the first scoring opportunity for SFC. On a beautiful set piece pass from Stefanos Stamoulacatos, Ryan Matthews was able to head the ball into the back of the net, but the sequence was deemed offside to keep the match scoreless.
SFC goalkeeper Pat Castle was superb in goal throughout the first twenty-five minutes, compiling five saves to keep the score level at zero.
In the 25th minute, Luiz Mota entered the game as a substitute, replacing Stamoulacatos at the midfield position.
The 29th minute saw the first goal of the match, as a header was scored by Nick Kolarac to give Fort Pitt a 1-0 lead. SFC increased the pressure following the goal, but chances from Ben Ramin and Adnan Bakalovic were dealt with by the Fort Pitt goalkeeper. In the 41st minute, off of a corner set piece deflection, Lamine Balde put away a header to give Fort Pitt a 2-0 lead.
The second half of the match saw the same back-and-forth as in the first 45 minutes of play, with the two teams exchanging meaningful possession in the attacking third of the pitch. An SFC corner in the 56th minute led to a threatening header attempt by Mota that hit the post, just missing the goal and the chance for SFC to get on the scoreboard.
As the half advanced, Castle continued to perform, making three impressive saves in a ten-minute span between the 54th and 64th minutes. In the 68th minute, Sam Daniel was SFC’s second substitution of the night when he entered for Callum Donnelly. After multiple attacking sequences, many led by Nate Bourdeau, SFC had a scoring chance when Ramin had a few close-range efforts in front of net; these were ultimately saved by the Fort Pitt goalkeeper.
During the closing minutes of the match, Syracuse FC continued the pressure on the Fort Pitt defensive backline, but was unable to put the finishing touches on a goal. Castle finished the match with ten saves and SFC put five shots on goal. The final home match of the Syracuse FC inaugural season ended under the lights at Murphy Field, with a final score of SFC 0 – Fort Pitt 2.
Syracuse FC fans crowded the field gates following the match, waiting for pictures and autographs with their team favorites and already looking forward to next season at David W. Murphy Field.
“Obviously our record isn’t what we’d hoped it would be as we near the end of our inaugural season,” said head coach Matt Tantalo, “but we made progress through the season. This city and these fans never left us, and we will continue to work hard in our last two league matches and in the seasons ahead.”
Syracuse FC has two remaining league matches in the 2017 inaugural season. The first will be in Pittsburgh, PA, on Saturday, July 15th, against the Fort Pitt Regiment. The last match of the season will be the rescheduled contest against the Erie Commodores in Erie, PA, on a date to be determined.