By Abby Rosenblum SYRACUSE, N.Y, (NCC NEWS) – The Syracuse University men’s soccer team is now ranked No. 1 in the country, and is also playing in the final four of the ACC tournament. This is the first time in the program’s history that they are ranked No. 1.
To move on to the final four, the team beat Duke 2-0 on Sunday. There were a record amount of fans in the stadium.
According to midfielder, Alex Halis, the fans help his game, “It just brings another level of intensity for us. We play for them and we play for each other, it’s just another feeling you can’t explain it.”
There were 2,533 people there supporting the Orange — something that team could not have imagined before this year. This season the average attendance for home games was 1,445 – up 400 from last season when the average was 1,007 for attendance.
“Freshman year we were a 3-1 team so it’s great to be able to turn the program around and just see it grow and leave it on a good note. It’s our last year and we’re trying to make it as long as possible and prolong our season until December,” Captain and senior Nick Perea said.
According to Head Coach Ian McIntyre, the program has come a long way in the past five years (since he began working with the team). This is their first conference tournament in 15 years. The team is making history this season with a record of 15-2-1. McIntyre emphasized that the dynamic of the team has been important in their success this season.
The players are from all over the country, and the world. From Finland, Germany and England to Florida, New Jersey and even Syracuse. Midfielder and junior Stefanos Stamoulacatos is from Camillus and went to West Genesee High School. Goalie, Alex Bono, is also from Baldwinsville and went to C.W. Baker High School.
The team leaves on Wednesday will play Louisville on Friday at 8:00 PM. According to McIntyre, the team has traveling down to a science.
“It’s always great when you’re making flight arrangements a couple days before – it’s a great problem to have. We’re not complaining. The coaching staff will be on coffee and the kids will be on orange juice and water and within about seven to eight minutes they’ll be asleep,” McIntyre said.
The other two teams in the final four are Notre Dame and Clemson. The Orange suffered their only loss (0-1) against Notre Dame early on in the season, but beat Clemson 1-0 a couple weeks later. Even if the Orange lose in the ACC tournament their season won’t be over — they still can be selected to play in the NCAA tournament.
McIntyre is optimistic for the rest of the season, “I’m very hopeful we should have an invitation to the national tournament. Our goals at the beginning of the year were to make the ACC tournament and hopefully the NCAA tournament. Now, we’re fully focused on Friday and we’ll see what happens.”