Men's Soccer

Sergio Camargo catching fire at just the right time for Syracuse men’s soccer

Sam Ogozalek | Staff Writer

Sergio Camargo has racked up three goals and two assists in three postseason games this year.

Throughout the regular season, Sergio Camargo sliced his way through opposing defenses. He flashed an ability to thread passes between any crevice, anywhere on the field. He even found the back of the net once, finally, in the Orange’s 13th game of the year against Virginia Tech.

But the full product never materialized, despite those inside the program raving about the potential of the Coastal Carolina transfer.

The Camargo of late, though, is the one that’s been bottled up inside his 5-foot-6 frame all year, the offensive weapon that Syracuse hoped for when he chose SU in the offseason. Camargo has scored three of SU’s four goals in its last two postseason games and assisted on the other. Against ninth-seeded North Carolina (12-3-3, 5-1-2 Atlantic Coast) in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament on Sunday at 2 p.m., Camargo will need to be more of the same for No. 8-seed Syracuse (12-3-4, 3-2-3) against one of the three teams that held the Orange scoreless this year.

“He’s playing well and you need your big players to play well in big games,” SU head coach Ian McIntyre said. “This time of year, these are the big ones.”

Camargo’s senior season has followed a path intertwined in disappointment, relief and now normalcy. He, and everyone around him, has known all along he’s capable of being the best offensive player during a given game. The results just didn’t show it.

Through 12 games, Camargo had one assist to his name and no goals to show for 17 shots. Granted, Syracuse’s 8-0 start softened the blow of his lacking individual production, but the Orange’s four-game winless streak that followed amped up the worry behind his own scoreless stretch. Then came his game-winner against Virginia Tech, and thus jumpstarted the upward trajectory of Camargo’s season that has reached its peak at just the right time.

“I guess it is cliché to say it, but it’s good. You want your players to come out and step up in big games like these,” senior forward Chris Nanco said. “When you get an individual performance like that from him … it raises the intensity of the guys around him and that helps a lot in the game … I’ve known what he’s capable of.”

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Sam Ogozalek | Staff Writer

When Syracuse trailed with less than five minutes remaining in the ACC tournament quarterfinal against Clemson, a Tigers handball gave SU a penalty kick. The Orange’s primary penalty-kick taker, Nanco, was out of the game and McIntyre didn’t immediately assign anyone to the kick. So Camargo swiftly picked up the ball, assigned himself to the kick essentially, he said, and buried it to send the game to overtime.

Then against Dartmouth in the second round of the NCAA tournament, a year after the Orange conceded first to the Big Green at the same stage in the postseason, Camargo slotted home goals No. 2 and 3 to help Syracuse pull away. Now comes another test, again with Syracuse’s season and Camargo’s career on the line, against one of the best defenses the Orange has faced all year.

“I try to show my teammates that I can produce for them,” Camargo said. “My stats haven’t really showed that but hopefully these last few games I can leave everything on the field like I know I can and raise my stats so everyone outside the program knows what I’ve put into this program.”

What showed before Syracuse embarked on a journey to repeat as College Cup semifinalists was one goal and one assist, a relatively underwhelming regular season resume.

Three postseason games later, it’s three goals, two assists and an expectation of offensive fireworks that could carry Syracuse right back to where it left off.

“We know Sergio and have known him very well,” McIntyre said. “He’s playing very well. Long may that continue.”

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