Back-line depth provides stability for tough Syracuse defense

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on September 23, 2014 at 12:17 am Contact Josh: [email protected] With Syracuse holding onto a one-goal lead with 10 minutes left against Clemson last Saturday night, Chris Makowski came on for just his third appearance of the season.“Clemson, on the road, holding on to a 1-0 lead with three ACC points on the line,” head coach Ian McIntyre said, “that just demonstrates how much faith we have in these guys.”After securing what the coach called a “gutsy” 1-0 victory over the Tigers, Syracuse’s (6-1, 1-1 Atlantic Coast) defensive stamina and depth will again be put to the test Tuesday at 7 p.m. when the team returns to action against Binghamton (2-5) at the Bearcats Sports Complex. While Syracuse’s defensive starters receive praise for SU’s six shutouts in seven games, McIntyre has also been able to play reserves in key minutes.Shortly after the team returned to its South Carolina hotel on Saturday, Thomas and fellow defender Tyler Hilliard immediately went for a swim in the hotel pool. The two have played a combined 700 minutes this season and in the same sequence earlier in the day, each had a brief hamstring issue.“To have guys like that that can come off the bench when we start to cramp in hot weather or when we get a red card, it’s huge for us,” goalkeeper Alex Bono said.Bono receives credit for the team’s shutout along with the team’s new-look, three-man defense of Thomas, Hilliard and Jordan Murrell. Bono’s 3.17 saves per game ranks tied for 142nd nationally, while SU’s .14 goals allowed per game average is third in the country.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textBono and McIntyre stress that shutouts come from a group effort and Makowski and Louis Cross, who started three of the six matches he’s played this season, are hardly benchwarmers.With Thomas suspended for SU’s season-opener against Niagara after getting a red card in last year’s finale, Cross stepped in and scored the team’s first goal of the season. With Thomas suspended for receiving another red card, Cross again started in a shutout victory against Cornell.“For me to be considered part of this defense is really pleasing because we’ve got such good depth,” said Cross, who started 13 of 17 games at Akron last year.Makowski, a team co-captain last year, led SU field players in minutes played in 2012 and 2013. As a sophomore in 2012, he was the team MVP.“I have no hesitation whatsoever to put him in,” McIntyre said.The back line doesn’t include sophomore outside midfielder Oyvind Alseth, who as a freshman started all 18 matches at right back for the Orange, and redshirt junior Brandon Albert, who started nine and played in 14 matches last year.Only Syracuse, Penn State and George Mason have allowed just one goal in seven games.With a stout performance against Binghamton, the Orange will maintain its momentum heading into a home match against No. 7 Virginia on Saturday night.“Binghamton is always a very difficult game, another one of these regional matchups,” McIntyre said. “They’re a hard-working team that we know it will be important for us to play at our best.“To go back on the road so quickly, it will be important for us to show that character and our energy.” Commentslast_img

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