SYRACUSE Friday evening at the Onondaga County War Memorial marked the debut of the Major Indoor Soccer League’s Syracuse Silver Knights, who took center stage. It was the first time that an indoor soccer game occurred in the arena.
Syracuse’s mascot was decked out in an armored suit with an orange cape while waving his fists in the air and giving the fans T-shirt and hat souvenirs. In a special ceremony, five schools from the youth soccer program were escorted on to the field to greet all the Knights’ players.
The game lived up to the special atmosphere as the Silver Knights, down by three goals in the fourth period, rallied to defeat the Rochester Lancers, 16-15.
Undaunted by the challenge, it was Syracuse’s persistence that won a competitive contest. The Silver Knights almost got forced to overtime, squandering four golden opportunities to as the Lancers literally dodged a few bullets.
However, with 37.5 seconds remaining, with an extra-attacker, defenseman Jeff Hughes notched in the game clinching goal that spun the crowd of 3,270 into a frenzy. Then defenders J.D. Gruenewald (a Fayetteville-Manlius graduate) and Ryan Pierce blocked shots that allowed Syracuse to hold on
“It is great for the fans and it develops a passion,” Hughes said of the theatrics. “They were a great part of keeping us in the game. That’s the kind of stuff you live for. They created a wonderful environment.”
Syracuse seized control and generated an 8-2 lead after one period. The Silver Knights were minus their two prolific goal scorers because of injuries sustained in the off-season.
But it did not appear that they were hindered by the absence of those players, as the Silver Knights scored on their first three possessions. Syracuse goalie Eric Green airmailed a pass that bounced off the wall to his teammate Andriy Budnyy who kneed in his team’s first franchise goal.