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Despite his lack of size, Hilli Goldhar’s versatility makes him important for SU

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Simon Triantafillou had heard rumors about Hilli Goldhar’s talent, but when Triantafillou first saw him, he didn’t believe it. Goldhar, a year younger than Triantafillou, was at a Sigma FC practice — one of Canada’s top soccer clubs where the two both played.“I had heard about him. So when I saw him I was like, ‘He is so small, how is this guy good?’” Triantafillou said.“But then he started beating guys one-on-one.”When Syracuse lines up at midfield before matches, Goldhar and teammate Ryan Raposo stand out as clearly smaller than the rest of their teammates. Goldhar is currently listed at 5-foot-9.“He does look like he’s 15 years of age,” Syracuse head coach Ian McIntyre quipped. “And has a couple of years until he attends college.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textSince he arrived at Syracuse in 2018, Goldhar’s often been at the end of McIntyre’s jokes. Yet this season in Syracuse, Goldhar has carved out his role for the Orange: He can play anywhere. His No. 11 jersey is typically worn by wingers. But Goldhar isn’t just a winger.On 2019’s squad, he’s been asked to play left wing back, left wing, left back and central midfielder. As the Orange (7-6-5, 2-4-2 Atlantic Coast) enter the NCAA tournament on Thursday when they host Rhode Island at SU Soccer Stadium, Goldhar’s versatility and pressing ability in McIntyre’s formation will be critical for a deep run.“I’ve really had to adapt,” Goldhar said. “I’ve played in a bunch of positions, I didn’t really know where I was going to play, but I was expected to play anywhere. It really depends.”In high school, Goldhar was primarily a central attacking midfielder, often the team’s most creative and skilled attacking player at creating chances. His freshman season he appeared off the bench in 13 games and started twice as a right-winger.His primary adjustment this season has come in learning to play left wing back, now his main position and the most difficult in McIntyre’s 3-5-2 formation. Goldhar is responsible for defending when the Orange don’t have the ball — often one-on-one against some of the top attacking wingers in the ACC.When the Orange do possess the ball, his role is to get forward and play as a winger, where he’s at his best, Goldhar said. He excels at taking on defenders one-on-one, the same ability that impressed Triantafillou in their first encounter.Goldhar grew up in Toronto, Canada, where his low center of gravity and balance gave him an edge in both hockey and soccer despite a lack of size and strength. When he was two years old, his father Sheldon said that Goldhar was able to both roller and ice skate.For nine years, Goldhar playedboth sports.He had up to eight practices in a week, often back-to-back. He’d attend soccer practice, then change in the backseat of the car while Sheldon drove him to hockey practice.Kevin Camelo | Co-Digital EditorHe’d arrive at hockey as a child 20 minutes after his teammates did wearing all of his equipment on his lower half of his body, then suit up and play. He was often the smallest player on his teams — his parents said that he didn’t even register on the growth charts when compared to other kids his age — but played defense.By age 13, Goldhar had to prioritize one because of his busy schedule. Even though Sheldon said that coaches told him he had a chance of getting drafted and playing professionally in hockey, he liked soccer better, and he was more physically suited for it too.“It was definitely a factor, players who play hockey are typically bigger and stronger,” Goldhar said.When Fern, Sheldon and Goldhar pulled into the Manley Field House parking lot to meet with McIntyre on Goldhar’s unofficial visit in late-2016, they didn’t know where to go. They pulled in, Fern said, and were immediately impressed by the facility.After minutes of waiting, McIntyre then propped open a door, signaling for the family to enter. Unlike other visits Goldhar had been on, McIntyre asked the majority of the questions. “What type of player are you?” Goldhar remembers McIntyre asking.“I love attacking players one-on-one, I don’t know many players who can beat a player better than me,” Goldhar answered.Will Fudge | Staff PhotographerAfter Goldhar’s unofficial visit, when McIntyre came up to see him at an annual showcase tournament in the winter of Goldhar’s junior year, he offered him a scholarship.About 14 months later, in February 2018, Goldhar signed with Syracuse as an attacking midfielder and winger.In his most successful season in Syracuse, Goldhar hasn’t been a main feature in the attack. He’s registered one goal and added five assists for the Orange in 2019. Still, McIntyre jokes at that he’s 100 pounds when soaking wet, and he struggles to finish in front of the net.“He’s a dynamic, exciting player and we’re looking for more in goals and assists,” McIntyre said. “He’ll be the first to tell you there’s more goals in him.”When the Orange played Pittsburgh on Oct. 9, senior Massimo Ferrin sent a cross to the far post. Goldhar had raced all the way up from his defensive position and into the penalty area.He leaped, won the header and the ball flew into the net.Said Goldhar: “Honestly, I haven’t had too many headers in my day.” Comments Published on November 19, 2019 at 9:28 pm Contact Anthony: [email protected]last_img read more