Complete makeover: New coach McIntyre hopes to revive SU men’s soccer

first_imgFinally, the wait was over. Nearly two months of uncertainty was brought to a close. Syracuse finally had its coach. On Jan. 6, Ian McIntyre became the newest face of Syracuse men’s soccer. For the 10 SU players remaining, it had been 57 days of not knowing. ‘Everybody was nervous,’ sophomore Mawuena Agbossoumonde said. ‘People thought they were going to get cut. We tried to stay together and comfort each other.’ The SU players could now exhale.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text They had become familiar with McIntyre’s style during his time as head coach at Hartwick, a team two hours away in Oneonta, N.Y., that SU had faced three of the past four years. A native of Basildon, England, McIntyre moved to the United States in 1992 to play soccer at Hartwick. After graduating in 1996, he entered into the coaching world. Three jobs and more than 100 career wins later, McIntyre is now leading the Orange. Known as a hard-nosed defender during his playing days, nothing has changed in his philosophies as a coach. He expects the best from himself and his players. He looks to play aggressively, attack constantly and simply outwork the other team. ‘Once we found out that we had an admirable, winning coach that was coming in here, we were all just pumped up,’ SU sophomore defender David Neumann said. Now that the wait is over, now that there is a coach, the men’s soccer program begins an overhaul. Nineteen seasons under former head coach Dean Foti produced zero trips to the NCAA tournament and just one win in the Big East tournament. McIntyre must fix that program, one coming off its worst season since 1971 and one that has finished above .500 just once since the turn of the century. That is McIntyre’s challenge. The enigma he must solve. Let the rebuilding begin. ‘I’ll remember that one’ Syracuse left a mark on Ian McIntyre from his playing days. An impression of sorts, only it’s more permanent. It’s with him every day. It’s been there ever since an overtime loss to the Orange in 1994. ‘Thankfully, one of the scars on my face is smaller because the Syracuse doctor did a good job that particular night,’ McIntyre said. McIntyre said someone nicked him with a ‘misplaced elbow.’ He was stitched up by the SU medical staff at halftime and returned to the game. Typical hard-nosed McIntyre. ‘It’s his passion,’ said Jamie Mullin, associate director of athletics for team services at SU. ‘He wears it on his sleeve.’ McIntyre earned a reputation as an aerial force. A skill that was vital on defense from his sweeper position and also on set pieces in the attacking third. ‘He was the most dominant header of the ball in Division I soccer when he played,’ said Carl Rees, a former Hartwick assistant coach. That unique talent nearly guided Hartwick to the final four in McIntyre’s sophomore season. After tallying game-winning goals against Rutgers and Boston University in the opening two rounds of the 1993 NCAA tournament, McIntyre headed in a goal that was disallowed in the quarterfinals against Princeton, Rees said. The referee called McIntyre for using his hands to climb up a defender. ‘Anybody who saw Mac play knew he didn’t need any kind of a stepladder to win a headed ball,’ Rees said. ‘I’ll certainly remember that one because we would have been on our way to the final four.’ A frustrated former player If it weren’t for one play, McIntyre might not have ended up in Syracuse at all. After his senior season in 1995, he was selected to play in the Umbro Classic, a collegiate all-star game, and scored the first goal. An own goal. It put his team down 1-0. And it put professional dreams out of McIntyre’s head. ‘Ultimately, I wasn’t good enough to go on and play professionally,’ McIntyre said. ‘So now I’m one of the many frustrated former players who are now coaches.’ Ever since, he’s dedicated his life to coaching. Upon graduating from Hartwick in 1996, McIntyre was hired to be an assistant coach by Rees, who had gone on to become the head coach at Fairfield. There, he helped guide the Stags to their first ever national ranking in 1998. His work as an assistant landed him a head coaching job at Oneonta State. From 1999-2002, McIntyre compiled three 10-win seasons. And then McIntyre got his big chance. Following the retirement of Hartwick’s head coach James Lennox, McIntyre, who was just down the road at Oneonta State, was eager to step in. ‘Hartwick is my alma matter,’ he said. ‘It’s a special place in my life.’ McIntyre led the Hawks from 2003-09, leaving as the second-winningest coach in school history. He posted a .633 winning percentage, going 71-36-25 in his time at the helm. He helped bring the team back to the NCAA tournament in 2005 for the first time in 10 years. Regardless of the school, McIntyre’s tendencies as a player have permeated his coaching philosophies. Strong defense and an emphasis on playing the ball aggressively up the field have gotten him to Syracuse, and now he looks to implement those same concepts with the Orange. ‘If you don’t give up goals, the other team can’t beat you,’ he said. ‘I do feel that the foundation and the bedrock of our program is the ability to individually and collectively defend.’ Four of McIntyre’s players from Hartwick transferred to Syracuse, and three of them play either defense or goalkeeper. Where former SU head coach Dean Foti had a more possession-oriented style, McIntyre is much more aggressive. Foti looked to work the ball through each third of the field ? defenders to midfielders to forwards. McIntyre relies on his defenders and goalkeeper to play the ball forward and initiate the attack more quickly. That style should help the Orange score more goals than it did a season ago, when the team averaged fewer than one goal per game. Said McIntyre: ‘I believe coaching is what I do best.’ Changing the culture It’s going to take time. Syracuse men’s soccer will not become a power overnight. Four games into the season, the team has a record of 1-3. The same as last year. It has scored fewer goals and allowed just as many. At times, it hasn’t looked pretty. It’s just going to take time. ‘Certainly we are evaluated on winning and losing,’ McIntyre said. ‘(But) I believe the winning and the results will take care of themselves as we continue to work hard and improve in more areas.’ And the team is improving. After it opened the season with an embarrassing 5-1 home loss to Siena, the defense has started to come around. Only three goals allowed in the last three games. The team has already posted a shutout, as well. That feat took 10 games a year ago. It’s getting better day by day. ‘You can see in practice and in games that he’s building it step by step so that it can go well in the long run,’ said sophomore defender Jakob Karlgren, who followed McIntyre from Hartwick. The learning curve is to be expected. Twenty of 30 players are new to SU. They are taking time to learn the new system and learn about each other. McIntyre is trying to change the perception of the program, Mullin said, and he can’t be evaluated on wins and losses, alone, this season. ‘Year one, what you want to be able to do is establish a culture,’ said Mullin, who played a role in hiring McIntyre at SU. ‘You want to build a foundation for the program moving forward.’ The players have bought into his system. Fitness has improved. Tempo of the game has improved. The family atmosphere has returned, and last year’s internal strife is a thing of the past. The rebuilding has definitely begun. ‘There’s a bunch of good things he has up his sleeve,’ senior goalkeeper Jeremy Vuolo said. ‘Everyone here at Syracuse is starting to appreciate that.’ Facebook Twitter Google+ Commentscenter_img Published on September 13, 2010 at 12:00 pm Contact Michael: | @Michael_Cohen13last_img

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