Liam Callahan links Syracuse’s defense and attack in 3-1 win over Seattle

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first_imgSyracuse was already out to its quickest lead of the season and Liam Callahan kept pressing. With a Seattle defender tagged to his right shoulder, he created separation by breaking his stride in the box and stopping the ball.He stutter-stepped to reverse his direction and threaded the ball 25 feet across the box to Noah Rhynhart, who spun around a defender and netted Syracuse’s second goal in the opening 20 minutes.On the ensuing possession, Callahan sent a cross toward the box that was deflected off the head of Seattle’s Michael Roberts. Despite his immediate efforts to inject more life into SU’s offense, it was silenced for the next 50 minutes.“We actually then … almost took our foot off the accelerator after that second goal,” head coach Ian McIntyre said. “It was a great start.”No. 6 seed Syracuse (15-5-3, 3-4-1 Atlantic Coast) held on though, and skirted past 11th-seeded Seattle (18-4-1, 9-1 Western Athletic) with a 3-1 win at SU Soccer Stadium on Sunday afternoon to advance to the Elite Eight. The Orange will host Boston College on Saturday at 2 p.m. at SU Soccer Stadium.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAfter orchestrating the Orange’s early attack with assists on both first-half goals, Callahan emerged as the liaison from Syracuse’s defensive side of the field to get balls up to forwards Chris Nanco and Ben Polk.He switched gears throughout the game after pushing the offensive side of the ball early and led SU’s defense in consistently shooing away errant crosses and headers from the Redhawks.“Just a back and forth player,” Callahan said of how he views his role. “I’m one who can see both sides of the field, both defensively and offensively.“… I still have my defensive responsibilities.”With Seattle midfielder Sergio Rivas bearing down on Callahan trying to create a fast-break situation, the Syracuse midfielder deked out Rivas and dribbled through him. Right as Rivas tried one last jab at the ball, Callahan booted it ahead the left sideline and into the open field for the speedy Nanco to retrieve.The possession resulted in an Orange corner kick attempt, and encapsulated Seattle’s desperate offensive mentality that never materialized. The constant acceleration on offense didn’t lend itself to Seattle deftly nabbing balls away like Rivas tried to.The Redhawks sent most kicks too far forward, and crosses in dangerous areas often overshot their target. Callahan ensured the pattern remained status quo.“We had a hard time getting a rhythm,” Seattle head coach Pete Fewing said. “ … We never could quite get our head up, look forward, play balls because everywhere we went we had a Syracuse player on top of us.”Five minutes after his ball up to Nanco didn’t result in a shot on goal, he instead took the ball up the left sideline himself. Having already converted a corner kick to an assist on Syracuse’s first goal of the game, Callahan mimicked the situation as he dribbled freely deep into Redhawks’ territory.He shot an ambitious cross over the penalty box and past forward Ben Polk. Callahan threw his hands up in the air in frustration, but he kept Syracuse on the precipice of its third goal before Seattle had its first.The SU midfielder was supposed to be guarding the Redhawks right back, but Callahan said the lack of offensive opportunities didn’t allow any Seattle defenders to enter SU’s territory.“It was a little easier for me to stay up top and try and get those balls in,” Callahan said.As the final buzzer sounded to seal the Orange’s win, Callahan put his hands on his knees and stared into the ground. The accepted vocal leader of the team who delivers his pregame speeches with vigor silently stood away from SU’s immediate celebration.He contributed to the win as much as any of Syracuse’s three goal-scorers and knows much of the public praise will fall on them. That’s just how he likes it.“(I’m) just kind of a rock for the team,” Callahan said. “Just doing the dirty work and the hard work if it needs to be done.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on November 29, 2015 at 6:21 pm Contact Connor: cgrossma@syr.edu | @connorgrossmanlast_img read more