Syracuse’s new backline features a senior transfer and a freshman

September 16, 2020

first_img Published on September 10, 2019 at 9:10 pm Contact David: ddschnei@syr.edu For the past two seasons, Syracuse head coach Ian McIntyre’s selections for his backline haven’t required much thought. Kamal Miller played in and started 53 games at center back from 2016-18. Sondre Norheim started all but two games in the past two seasons. John-Austin Ricks occupied the right side of the backline for much of his first three years, starting 30 games and appearing in 51. A 2-1 overtime loss at Boston College in 2017 was the only game in the past two seasons when at least two of Miller, Norheim, and Ricks weren’t in the starting lineup.With Miller out of eligibility, Norheim returning from an injury and Ricks taking up a role in the midfield, McIntyre has been forced to piece together an entirely new backline to start the 2019 season. The ninth-year head coach opted for two senior transfers — Nyal Higgins and Matt Orr — and freshman Noah Singelmann to round out the back three. “We have three new guys back there,” McIntyre said. “They’ve reacted well to [not having in-game experience together]. So far, I’ve seen some really good individual defensive moments from them.”Last season, Syracuse’s defense conceded 26 goals in 18 games (1.44 per game), the third-worst mark in the Atlantic Coast Conference. This year’s reconstructed defense has allowed seven goals in four games (1.75 per game) so far, but its solid performances have McIntyre and the Orange (1-1-2) optimistic. AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThat confidence starts with Singelmann, the sole freshman starter in the backline. The Rheinstetten, Germany native is a product of the Karlsruher SC academy, a team in the German second division, where he captained his U-17 and U-19 teams. In his first five games as an SU player, Singelmann has impressed McIntyre with his composure on the ball and involvement in possession and build-up play. In his first start against Binghamton, Singelmann frequently linked with Ricks and junior Simon Triantafillou on attacking moves down the right sideline. The center back even registered the Orange’s second shot of the game after dribbling into the attacking third.“I don’t think [it was difficult],” Singelmann said about his first start alongside Orr and Higgins against Binghamton on Sept. 2. “We all love football, we all know how the game works. I think we were all comfortable.”Max Freund | Staff PhotographerOrr, a senior transfer from the University of San Francisco, lost his starting position to the returning Norheim against No. 22 New Hampshire on Sunday but started each of the first three games of his SU career. Higgins, who transferred from Oakland University, looks to a commonality at center back all season. The Ajax, Canada native has started all four games so far and displayed his smart decision-making and athleticism on many occasions. Sunday night, Higgins met his match in New Hampshire’s Donnett Sackie, a 6-foot-3 senior forward. Higgins, at 6-foot-2, constantly found himself in foot races and aerial battles with Sackie. On most long throw-ins, free kicks and corner kicks, Higgins and Sackie battled each other for position, with the Orange defender typically winning. Norheim, not Higgins, was marking Sackie when he headed in UNH’s equalizer with five minutes left in regulation. Since Syracuse conceded three goals to No. 13 Georgetown in the first game of the season, Higgins believes the defense has already improved. Since then, they’ve conceded four goals in three matches, including two that went to double overtime.The next step for the defense, McIntyre said, is playing a full 90 minutes with no costly mistakes. Against Binghamton, McIntyre said the defense gave Bearcats’ goal scorer Parker McKnight too much space outside the box to curl in the visitor’s only goal in a 3-1 SU win. In Friday’s 1-1 double-overtime draw to Yale, it was Orr’s errant pass from the back that set up the Bulldogs’ only goal. Sunday night, poor marking on two crosses overshadowed a strong defensive performance in a 2-2 tie to New Hampshire.“It was a sloppy goal to concede,” McIntyre said about UNH’s first goal on Sunday. “But that’s a new group for you. It’s coachable. That’s what we’re here for.”Being a new player that starts and plays significant minutes has been more a fun challenge than nerve-wracking, Singelmann said. The 19-year old credited McIntyre and the older SU players for easing their new players into the team, a process that began in the preseason more than two weeks before the Orange’s season opener on Aug. 30.“Guys who have been here a few years like John-Austin, Massimo (Ferrin) and Sondre have helped us mesh and get together,” Higgins said. “They’ve made sure we all play as a unit, not just the backline.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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