Pasanen, Perea revel in unheralded defensive midfield role for dominant Syracuse

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on September 23, 2014 at 12:10 am Contact Matt: [email protected] | @matt_schneidman Defensive midfielder.On the surface, it’s an unappealing position that confines a player to a role out of the spotlight.Left, center and right backs have a distinct role and are given the majority of the credit for shutouts, while attacking midfielders and forwards get most of the recognition for goals they score.Defensive midfielders are caught in the middle, and their contributions are often celebrated in the form of others’ exploits.“I don’t feel like we get that much credit because I feel like American people follow stats a lot, and it’s tough from that position to get stats,” SU defensive midfielder Juuso Pasanen said. “A lot of people kind of overlook it but I personally think it’s a very important piece of our team.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAs defensive midfielders in Syracuse’s 3-5-2 formation, junior Pasanen and senior Nick Perea play directly in front of the back line, serving as the link between the defense and attack.Pasanen and Perea are equally crucial to the offense and defense, and they hardly revel in the spotlight. Yet they’ve been integral to the Orange’s dominating start, one that it’ll look to continue when SU (6-1) travels to face Binghamton (2-5) at the Bearcats Sports Complex at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.“It starts from us and it can’t go anywhere else if the ball doesn’t pass through us.” Perea said. “If we win our tackles, if we link our balls to the forwards, then the team is going to keep winning.”This season, the importance of Syracuse’s defensive midfielder is magnified because of the three-defender formation the Orange has seamlessly implemented. While it gives seven players an opportunity to push forward on counter attacks, it is mainly up to one of those seven to make sure the opponent can’t generate a counter of its own.Former SU defensive midfielder Mark Brode knows what it takes at the position to contribute to a shutout, as Syracuse kept opponents off the scoreboard 12 times in 21 games in his senior season in 2012.Brode said it was very rare to play three in the back in his four years, so he was given an extra cushion behind him with a fourth defender. Even so, he realizes Pasanen and Perea’s daunting task with one less teammate in the defensive third.“It’s extremely important especially with those three because you don’t have another center back there,” Brode said. “If you were to play a 4-4-2 or a 4-5-1, then you’d have that extra center defensive player to be there.“But now there’s more of an importance on Perea and Juuso because they’ve got to watch themselves when they’re going forward.”In four of Syracuse’s six shutouts this season, goalie Alex Bono has had to make three saves or less.Head coach Ian McIntyre relies on his defensive midfielders to prevent the play from even reaching the final line of protection. It’s them, he says, whose importance tends to get overshadowed.“Every question you guys ask always starts with that guy over there, right?” head coach Ian McIntyre said pointing to Bono. “Saying he’s got another shutout, he’s awesome and he is.“Between Nick and Juuso, they defensively give us a lot of quality, they give us a lot of protection, but also we’re able to make the game through them both.”Three times this year, Syracuse has won by a score of 3-0.When Pasanen gets home after these one-sided games, he normally gets one question from friends.“There’s actually been a few asking, ‘How was your game, did you score?” Pasanen said. “I’m always like, ‘Nah, almost got an assist,’ and stuff like that.”It’s the same for Perea.“They always think that everyone is a forward,” he said. “When they ask you it’s like, ‘Oh you scored four, you must’ve scored one.’ But I just tell them I’m not that high, but I created.”While both were able to bask in the limelight in a 3-0 win over Cornell on Sept. 16 — each scoring a one-touch goal — they went back to their standard shadowed relevance in a 1-0 win against Clemson on Saturday.Goals can be spectacular, but the buildup to one is hardly recognized as such. A diving save can be, but the slide tackle that stops a three-on-one counter rarely makes the highlight reel.It’s a role Pasanen and Perea have become accustomed to, and one they know comes with less attention but unnoticed benefits.Said Perea: “Me and Juuso, even though we’re never in the limelight, we just like helping our team and we know that we’re the engine of the team.” Commentslast_img

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