Thomas helps Syracuse shut out Hartwick in first home game back from injury

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first_imgSyracuse’s starting lineup stood on the northern side of the 50-yard line, calm, cool, and collected during the national anthem. All 11 players except Skylar Thomas, who clapped his hands and swayed his 6-foot-3 frame back and forth.Thomas, SU’s junior defender and team captain, made his home return to SU Soccer Stadium after injuring his right leg in a Sept. 29 game at Cincinnati last year. On Monday night, Thomas was back in his customary center back position for the Orange (2-0-0) in its 2-0 win over Hartwick (0-1-1). “He’s getting better with every game,” SU head coach Ian McIntyre said. “To be out for 10, 11 months, every half, every 90 minutes helps him. He laughed after the Colgate game because that was his first 90 minutes in a very, very long time. “He’s an important part of what we’re doing.”Against Hartwick, Thomas again played the entire match. Although he walked noticeably gingerly afterward, Thomas said after the game his foot felt fine for most of the 90 minutes. AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThomas was visible throughout the match, coming forward on corner kicks and being active defensively, playing balls through to midfielders and also back to goalkeeper Alex Bono. Thomas, along with fellow defenders Chris Makowski, Jordan Murrell and Oyvind Alseth, spearheaded a defensive effort that allowed just two shots on goal and handed Bono his second straight shutout.Thomas’ presence was also felt from a leadership aspect. It was Thomas who represented the Orange at midfield before the game to shake hands with the referees and Hartwick captain Will Broomfield. But it was also Thomas who came rushing in from his defensive position across the midfield line to confront Broomfield when he pushed down and kicked Juuso Pasanen at the 67th minute. In the opening half, McIntyre sent Thomas forward on the team’s four corner kicks. Defensively, Thomas got his head on several Hartwick advances, and also thwarted a Hawks break by stopping a one-on-one on the far sideline with eight minutes to go in the first half. It felt natural to have him back, Makowski said. The team didn’t miss a beat.“He’s just a great presence and he’s a big presence in the air for us defensively, and also attacking,” Makowski said. “I think he just fits the mold for us really well.”“The communication was good,” Thomas said. “It didn’t really go anywhere, considering we see each other every day. So we’re talking to each other, communicating, so as soon as we get on the field, we just click. We talk a lot between the back four, our goalie, and our midfield.” McIntyre has said that at points last year Thomas was the team’s best player, especially stepping in with injuries to defenders Nick Bibbs and Tyler Hilliard. “He’s got athleticism, he’s got good size, and that presence he’s developing,” McIntyre said. “The back four’s done very well. Our success will be built on keeping clean sheets and defending well. And when we do that, I think we have some quality in the final third to give us a chance to win some soccer matches.” But Thomas was just happy to be back in front of his home crowd and to bring the fans a win.“I’m just grateful I had a good recovery,” he said, “and just happy to be here and play in this game.” Comments Published on September 3, 2013 at 2:39 am Contact Josh: [email protected] Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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