With Big East tournament berth in sight, SU men’s soccer faces make-or-break contest with Rutgers

first_imgMark Brode is praying that Saturday won’t be the day. Brode, a Syracuse men’s soccer midfielder, knows it’s just a matter of time before the Rutgers men’s soccer team puts it all together. He just hopes that perhaps it will take them one more week to do it. ‘Person-to-person, they’re going to be one of the best teams we play,’ Brode said. ‘I know a lot of players on their team. They’re really skilled. I guess they just can’t put it together this season. It’s only a matter of time, and I’m praying it’s not Saturday.’ With Saturday comes the biggest game of SU’s season. A game that will be, according to Brode and goalkeeper Jeremy Vuolo, the make-or-break moment for the Syracuse men’s soccer team. When the whistle blows Saturday, the Orange (2-7-5, 0-3-3 Big East) will embark on the most important 90 minutes of the season. Months of hard work and preparation comes down to one game, the third-to-last game of the year against Rutgers (3-9-1, 0-6-0 Big East) at SU Soccer Stadium at 7 p.m. Four of the Red Division’s six berths in the Big East tournament have already been locked up, but four teams including Syracuse and Rutgers are still battling for those final two postseason spots.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text As of Friday, the Orange sits in sixth place in the Red Division. It would make the Big East tournament if the season ended today. But unfortunately for SU, it doesn’t. And the three games it has left won’t be easy. After Rutgers on Saturday, the Orange faces the No. 2 team in the country in Louisville and then travels to Cincinnati. Both teams have already clinched tournament berths. ‘Rutgers is our season, and we need three points,’ Vuolo said. ‘A No. 2 team in the country, they’re supposed to come here and beat us. That’s what is supposed to happen. So really, Rutgers is the bigger game where we are looking at that knowing we need the three points.’ Though the Scarlet Knights are winless in conference games this season and are the only team in the 16-team Big East without a point, Vuolo still says RU cannot be taken lightly. Mathematically, Rutgers is still alive. Emotionally then, it is desperate. ‘They’re a desperate team,’ Vuolo said. ‘It’s always a dangerous game playing a desperate team. Any team can be dangerous when they’re that desperate.’ And if any team wants a win, it’s probably the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers comes into Saturday’s game riding an eight-game losing streak. Its last win came on Sept. 19 against Hartford. Its last Big East win was Nov. 4, 2009 against West Virginia. Of those eight losses, five of them came by just a single goal. So anything less than three points puts the Orange in a dicey situation at best. As Vuolo said, Louisville is supposed to come to Syracuse next Wednesday and beat the Orange, meaning it only has one game left to come away with a win. Prior to the final four games of the season, which began with an overtime loss to Villanova on Wednesday, players felt that two wins over the course of those games would be enough to get them into the Big East tournament. With one game already thrown away, and with the Louisville game a likely loss, Rutgers is the all-important matchup. ‘We know that Rutgers is such a big game that we can’t look past it,’ SU midfielder Nick Roydhouse said. ‘A win on Saturday is really going to set us in a good position in terms of making the postseason. We’re definitely targeting it to get all three points.’ And making the postseason is something that Syracuse hasn’t done since 2005. For the players and transfers that came here, the time is now. They came here to help McIntyre turn the program around in the future, but that doesn’t mean that winning in the present isn’t on their minds. ‘Every single player that came in and every single player that stayed here through the coaching cuts and all that wanted to make an impact,’ Vuolo said. ‘The guys who are here for one or two years, yeah, we want to see the program succeed in three or four years. But we also want to succeed now. ‘I think it would be priceless to come in and take this team back to a place it hasn’t been for a while.’ [email protected] Comments Published on October 21, 2010 at 12:00 pm Contact Michael: [email protected] | @Michael_Cohen13center_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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