Julio Fulcar’s return from injury has expanded SU’s defensive repertoire

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Comments Julio Fulcar’s heart pounded his chest as he entered the game in the 30th minute of Syracuse’s Sept. 24 matchup with Colgate. Playing in his first action of the year, the freshman surveyed the crowd at SU Soccer Stadium.“I was like, ‘I’m just playing another game,’” Fulcar said.In every game that Fulcar’s appeared, SU (7-4-2, 1-3-1 Atlantic coast) hasn’t lost. The Orange have gone 4-1-2 since the start of the Raiders game, with Fulcar not appearing in SU’s double overtime road loss to Virginia Tech. After returning from a left quad strain sustained prior to the season, Fulcar has provided stability in the SU midfield, offering fresh legs, physical defense and crisp passes.Midfielder Hugo Delhommelle and goalkeeper Hendrik Hilpert dubbed Fulcar “the new version of Mo Adams,” a former Syracuse star midfielder who left for the MLS at the end of the season last year. Fulcar has contributed to the Orange’s defensive efficiency over the past seven games. Since his first playing time, SU has allowed just five goals, compared to 11 in the six games prior.“He’s here for a reason,” Delhommelle said. “He wants to play.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textSyracuse head coach Ian McIntyre noticed Fulcar’s physicality as a defender when he started recruiting the Watertown, Massachusetts native. The Orange had contacted Fulcar late in the process last year, Fulcar said, and didn’t reach out until the winter months after the SU season. In club for the USSDA Boston Bolts, Fulcar played the center defensive midfielder role, which is currently employed at SU by Djimon Johnson.Before he arrived at SU, Fulcar had conversations with McIntyre about his role for the season. He didn’t want to start immediately, but he wanted to find the field. When a quad strain kept him out for the first six games of the season, Hilpert sensed Fulcar’s frustration. He didn’t scream as loudly as the team did to celebrate. He didn’t jump around. He didn’t dance or sing along with his teammates after wins.“You’re a student and you’re an athlete,” Hilpert said. “(When you’re) injured, you lose 50 percent of your life.”Fulcar trained extra time with Syracuse assistant athletic trainer Mike Mangano. He showed he was invested in the team. He expected a lot from himself, Hilpert said, and he just looked to prove himself. Entering games anywhere from the 29th to 42nd minutes, Fulcar has offered tough defensive pressure, allowed the ball to flow through the midfield and even scored a goal in SU’s 7-0 shellacking of St. Bonaventure Tuesday.Fulcar subbed in for Johnson in both the Colgate game and SU’s road tie with Louisville, but for the most part Fulcar said he’s played a position a little further up near the opponent’s side than he was used to prior to SU. Replacing Jonathan Hagman, who has an attacking mindset as a midfielder, and Delhommelle, who has played a central role in the flow of both the offense and defense in the midfield, has given Syracuse a new element in its defense to tap into with two physical defenders stacked in the midfield.Laura Angle | Digital Design EditorAgainst Wake Forest, who came into its Oct. 5 matchup against SU the best attacking team in the country, Fulcar said he knew he’d be featured. Wake Forest tended to push upward and attack into the opponent’s third, so to stop it, the Orange called upon Fulcar. He responded, and so did SU, in a 2-0 shutout victory of the then-No. 1 Demon Deacons.The Orange have high hopes for the freshman, who Hilpert mentioned showed shades of the physicality Adams offered the last two years for SU. Though, he’s not there yet, the potential is glaring.“He has the keys,” Delhommelle said. “Now let’s see what he’ll do in the future.”In Syracuse’s domination of the Bonnies, Fulcar was subbed out in the 68th minute for John-Austin Ricks. He arrived to the sideline and met a line of SU coaches, who each thanked Fulcar for his efforts. After the game, SU players joked and smiled as Fulcar was approached by TV cameras. They laughed with Fulcar.“Big time!” they yelled.“I take pride in pressing the ball,” Fulcar said, “and just keeping it really simple on offense.”center_img Published on October 17, 2018 at 10:25 pm Contact Michael: [email protected] | @MikeJMcClearylast_img