We motored over to the soccer stadium near Manley Fieldhouse around 1:15 p.m.
today, fifteen minutes after the start of the men’s soccer match between SU and
Boston College. Tied, they were, nil-nil. It was beautiful, sunny
weather. Syracuse, I’ve concluded, is a town shrouded in weather
moods. When it’s sunny, great place. When it’s cloudy/rainy,
Ph. got in for free b/c it was Youth Day. B.C. is currently ranked #8
in the nation, it turns out; they were deep in SU’s backfield when we arrived
mid-way through the first half.
SU’s got a young team this year, and their reputation in soccer is
unremarkable. Orange soccer, in my regard, is anxious soccer, or so
it was today. Touch, touch, dispossession. Touch, dispossession.
Dispossession, dispossession. And while I’m certainly no expert on the finer
points of high-level soccer, I understand one of the basic tenets of
passing-oriented team sports (basketball, soccer, etc.) to be build-up: coordinations
of spacing, angularity, control, and distribution. In hoops, the gem play
is the give-n-go (well, fine…not to mention the screen-n-roll–an entry for
another day). In futbol, it’s the give-give-give-give-give-give-n-goal (or
SOG)–all predicated on masterful control and possession, which seems immensely
more complicated because it is hands-free and kept by boundaries.
Perhaps because the level of Big East soccer is extraordinary, the
build-ups for both teams today were sub-par. The kick-away style,
characterized by desperate long-balls, was so glaring that Ph. and I started
counting sequences in the second half. (Of course, it’s not official, but)
SU had a total of two strings with three passes or more; BC had as many as seven
or eight strings of three passes or more, including two strings of five
gives–the best examples of possession and sharing of the last half of the
match. On one of the three-pass build-ups, BC scored the only goal of the
match. Final: BC 1, SU 0.
SU’s next home match is against Georgetown on October 3, but I don’t know whether we’ll hurry back to the stadium or grow into full-blow Orange soccer fans. It was Youth Day, after all, and near the end of the match, a frustrated player let loose an f-list curse toward the kid-filled stands. No jog-over acknowledgements after the match. And I get it that sports can be frustrating, disappointing, etcetera, and that classy programs tend to be winning programs these days. If nothing else, it added to a sense of nostalgia about the program at my last U., where vocal cussers, rare as they are, do push-ups on the sidelines and the entire team and coaching staff always–home and away–clap an appreciative gesture, even after a loss. And so it doesn’t concern me that Ph, for now, has recanted his wish to be a ball boy. Doesn’t concern me one bit.