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Binghamton’s defense settled in as Syracuse played the ball along the backline in the fourth minute of play. They converged in a compact setup around Orange striker Deandre Kerr, as Syracuse relied on aerial service to the sophomore consistently in its first five games of the season.
But on Tuesday, that service went to Syracuse’s wingback Giona Leibold, who took his first touch down a wide-open left-wing. He took one more touch forward before angling in, centering a bouncing ball into the penalty box that split the Binghamton defense and allowing Curt Calov to slot home a right-footed shot into the bottom right corner.
Calov scored twice in his second collegiate start leading Syracuse (4-2, 1-0 Atlantic Coast) to a 7-0 win over Binghamton (4-2). The Orange scored on seven of their 11 total shots, leading them to the program’s biggest win over a Division I opponent since 2018.
“We didn’t win many games last year so it’s nice for our guys to enjoy winning soccer matches,” head coach Ian McIntyre said. “It’s nice that we had a chance to rotate some guys and freshen things up.”
Leibold was involved once again on Calov’s second goal of the game. This time the ball was played to Leibold’s feet from Jeorgio Kocevski as Leibold’s back faced the Binghamton goal and two Bearcat defenders directly behind them. But Leibold was able to escape the pressure, splitting the pair with a Maradona spin.
He moved the ball to the top of the penalty box, passing back and forth with Kerr and leading him down the left edge of the box. Kerr got onto the ball near the end line and pulled his pass back toward the top of the goal box, and Calov slotted home another inside of the footed shot for his third goal of the season.
“He’s come in and he’s done a fantastic job,” Kerr said about his partnership with Calov. “When we need him off the bench, he comes on, scores goals and changes the game. We need players like him if we want to go far this season.”
Syracuse found its insurance goal on a similar give-and-go sequence as its second. Kerr received a ball to feet from Calov at the semicircle at the edge of the penalty box. With Colin Biros sitting below Kerr, the two played quick one-touch passes between each other, ultimately sending Kerr into the box.
Kerr was alone with Binghamton goalkeeper Mats Roorda, and Kerr curled the ball into the far right corner to give Syracuse a 3-0 lead.
Calov played 55 minutes, playing alongside Kerr as Syracuse’s second forward option. Calov became another option centrally for the Orange, receiving the ball in a central position and effectively moving the ball to Leibold and Luke Biasi out wide, where SU relies on its speed.
“(Cavlov has) got a bright future ahead of him,” McIntyre said. “He had a good night and I’m sure he’ll take a lot of confidence away from it.”
But much like on Syracuse’s third goal, Calov was involved in the prime buildup on its fourth. Biros and Calov pressed a loose ball, which Kerr took forward, in Binghamton’s half. In a 1-on-1 with Bearcats defender Carter Beaulieu heading into the penalty box, Kerr cut to his left and fired a low shot beating Roorda to the left, extending the Orange’s lead to 4-0.
Given the large lead and the fact that Tuesday’s game was sandwiched between two Atlantic Coast Conference opponents, Syracuse was able to rotate several players into its large victory. Manel Busquets was one of these players who missed out on SU’s first few games because of an injury, and he has seen limited minutes because of it.
Busquets returned comfortably to his attacking midfield role, and he scored his first goal of the season on a left-footed curling shot into the left corner for SU’s fifth of the game.
McIntyre also used the game to give freshmen an extended stretch of game action. Francesco Pagano and Aidan Arber, who have been McIntyre’s preferred freshmen to bring off the bench, scored Syracuse’s sixth and seventh goals, respectively.
Pagano scored an inside-footed volley on a curling cross from Leibold on the left side, and Arber finished off a rebound spilled right to his feet off a long-range shot from Biros. Both freshmen notched their first career collegiate goals.
Arber and Pagano are both players that sit among a very deep Syracuse squad. The freshmen are arguably SU’s fastest duo off the bench. Like Leibold, SU played the ball to Arber into space along the wing, where he used his speed to pull off numerous crosses that could’ve yielded Syracuse’s eighth and ninth goals of the night.
Pagano got several touches on the ball, taking two shots after scoring the team’s sixth goal. He was successfully able to get himself in dangerous 1-on-1 situations.
This depth will be key for Syracuse as it is set to begin a nine-game stretch where it will alternate between nonconference and ACC opponents. In McIntyre’s 100th career win at SU, one of his most dominant as head coach, he now looks to ride that momentum against Louisville. The Orange have a road win against Virginia and now a 7-0 home win to help establish themselves atop the ACC.
“It’s another important regional game. These ones are so difficult and tricky,” McIntyre said. “I’m very proud of how we approached this game and started this game.”
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