Syracuse Shocks the Heat in OT

by Allen Czelusniak

HARRISBURG, PA -- With the playoff dreams of the Silver Knights in jeopardy, forward Moises Gonzalez played the role of hero for Syracuse. Gonzalez scored in the last minute of regulation to tie the match and the first minute in overtime for an 8-7 victory over the Harrisburg Heat.

The win puts Syracuse (5-7) back in the mix for a playoff spot and leaves Harrisburg (6-7)wondering what their season would look like if they hadn’t lost four matches to the Silver Knights. Coupled with MASL Eastern Division rival Florida (6-8) losing 7-6 to Kansas City on Friday night, Syracuse fans have renewed hope the club can make the playoffs.

It didn’t look that way for most of the evening in Harrisburg. Syracuse never led in the match until overtime, when Gonzalez trapped an outlet pass near the wall, cut inside to the middle of the offensive third, and blasted top-shelf past a helpless Hugo Silva and into the Harrisburg net.

New Silver Knights Head Coach Ryan Hall showed faith in Gonzalez, playing him down the stretch, and the club’s biggest free agent acquisition of the off-season delivered for his new coach and team.

Unlike earlier on this road trip, Syracuse was the team that made the impressive comeback in the match. The Silver Knights netted the last three goals of the game, turning a 7-5 deficit in the fourth quarter into a win that gives the club momentum heading into Sunday’s match on Dave and Buster’s Field versus the Chicago Mustangs.

The game started fast and furious, with Harrisburg quickly racing out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Dominic Francis and Thiago Freitas. Syracuse stayed close, getting goals from Darren Toby and Slavisa Ubiparipovic. The wild first quarter ended with Harrisburg up 4-3.

The match featured a lot of physical play and fouls, with Syracuse being whistled for 24 infractions to 13 for the Heat. The Knights played with vigor for most of the evening, outshooting the Heat 18-13 and displaying true grit in the telling fourth quarter and overtime.

Syracuse tightened up its defense after halftime, allowing only two goals the rest of the way after giving up five in the first 30 minutes. The Silver Knights never trailed by more than two goals, but they never seemed able to catch and overtake the Heat until Gonzalez’s late magic.

Until that point, the highlight for Syracuse was at the end of the first quarter, when forward Jerjer Gibson proposed to his girlfriend in the center circle. Judging by her reaction and the big kiss he got, it appears she said yes.

Syracuse also got fine performances from midfielder Kenardo Forbes, who scored twice, and the ever-hustling Joey Tavernese, who got a goal and an assist.