Silver Knights Ice the Heat

by Allen Czelusniak

SYRACUSE, NY (Jan. 6, 2017) -- The Syracuse Silver Knights desperately needed a win against division rivals Harrisburg on Friday night, and Syracuse earned it with an 11-7 victory over the Heat.

Silver Knights Coach Bryan O’Quinn’s side responded positively to the pressure to get a win with seven goals in the first half, paving the way to a more reasonable path for Syracuse to earn a place in the Major Arena Soccer League playoffs.

The victory puts Syracuse (4-5) in a tie with Harrisburg (4-5), but the Silver Knights now own the tiebreaker in head-to-head play, three games to one. If the Silver Knights had lost, Syracuse would have trailed Harrisburg by two games while still having three games remaining on its schedule versus defending MASL champions Baltimore.

Veteran forward Joey Tavernese stepped up big, tallying a hat trick in the first half and earning the game’s first star. Defender Jake Schindler earned the second star, adding a goal and two assists and helping Syracuse to a 7-4 lead at the half.

The diminutive and colorful Syracuse midfielder Antonio Manfut earned the game’s third star, scoring two goals, one of them an impressive blast from distance into the top left corner of the Heat’s goal.

Harrisburg came out playing high pressure soccer at the start of the third quarter, but Syracuse withstood the onslaught and effectively counter-attacked with a fast break. The blazing finish from Manfut put Syracuse up 8-4 and took a little of the steam out of the Heat.

After a foul on Harrisburg midfielder Val Teixeira for holding back Tavernese, the Silver Knights went on the power play. A shot from Syracuse forward Moises Gonzalez went justwide but fell right to Tavernese, who put the rebound in the back of the net for his fourthgoal on the night and gave Syracuse a 9-4 lead.

Midfielder Nate Bourdeau tacked on another for Syracuse, dispossessing Harrisburg keeper Hugo Silva and rolling in a long shot from midfield to put the Silver Knights up six.

The Heat briefly started to melt down after that, with midfielder Thiago Freitas picking up a five-minute yellow card for unsportsmanlike manner late in the third. The quarter finished with Syracuse leading 10-4.

Harrisburg’s Lucio Gonzaga scored on a shootout in the fourth quarter, slipping a shot under a defenseless Andrew Coughlin and making it 10-5. The Heat added goals from midfielders Dominic Francis and Doug Mellor to cut the deficit to three with two minutes left.

It was too little, too late for Harrisburg, as Syracuse spread the field and worked on its possession passing game to ice the Heat. A foul on Harrisburg’s sixth attacker, Thiago Freitas, led to a shootout goal from Syracuse’s Slavisa Ubiparipovic, which finished the scoring and sealed the 11-7 victory.