MSOC : Freshman Chong maturing in role as substitute for SU

first_img Comments Published on September 26, 2011 at 12:00 pm Contact Chris: | @chris_iseman It was a case of Syracuse’s past helping build its future.Grant Chong’s road to Syracuse started in high school with a tip from former SU soccer player Kevin Johnston, who suggested Chong send a game tape to the Orange coaching staff. In May of his junior year in high school, Chong played in front of Syracuse recruiters in a tournament in Cincinnati. But a relationship between the two sides had already been established.‘He just mentioned, ‘Why don’t you send stuff to them? It’s a great academic school and a great soccer program. They just got a new coaching staff,” Chong said. ‘I said, ‘Yeah, why not?’ And then from there, it was just contacting each other, emailing.’About a year and a half later, Chong was in the starting lineup for the Orange’s 2011 season opener at Colgate.After that game, though, Chong’s role changed from starter to reliable substitute who head coach Ian McIntyre could call on to spell his veteran players. Now, with his first few weeks of college soccer completed, Chong’s emotions have begun to shift from apprehension to confidence.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textWhile Chong continues to search for his first SU goal, his teammates and coaches are still going to consider him a threat to score when Syracuse (2-5, 0-1 Big East) plays Binghamton (3-5, 0-0 America East) Tuesday at 7 p.m. in its final nonconference game of the season.Chong’s speed and lack of hesitancy on the field have impressed his teammates since the first time they saw him play. Only now, McIntyre said, Chong needs to take what he’s already done one step further during Big East play.Make assists. Score goals. Help create scoring opportunities for others.And McIntyre knows that’s not an easy expectation for the freshman Chong to deal with.‘He’s still where he needs to make that transition and have more of an effect,’ McIntyre said. ‘That’s a big ask for a coach for any first-year player to demand even more. But we feel that he has a real high ceiling, and we’ve kind of scratched the surface. He’s had a valuable experience this season.’When Chong stepped on to that Colgate field to start his college career, one of the first things he did was glance into the stands. That only made the anxiety that had been building up for days intensify once he saw how many people were there. For someone just months removed from high school, it was too much to take in.Although he had some notice that he’d be in this situation, there was no way to prepare for what felt like a losing battle. Chong’s nerves wouldn’t settle down.‘They told me in the days leading up to it because some players were unable to play due to injury,’ Chong said. ‘So they told me, ‘You may be stepping in to play, so get ready for it.”While his stomach might’ve been in knots, he managed to quell the emotions while he was on the field. When junior midfielder Ted Cribley saw the ‘jittery’ freshman run straight at Colgate’s left back without fear, he realized the value Chong can bring to the Orange.And Cribley said he’s only gotten better since that day at Colgate.‘He certainly startles defenders,’ Cribley said. ‘He doesn’t have to get by them, but it puts a sense of fear in them. It passes on to the next player. He’s definitely an impact player that can come on and get past players and sort of give a lift to everyone else.’During preseason, Chong knew it was a competition for time on the field. So in every part of Syracuse’s training, he tried to outwork his teammates. In weightlifting, he tried to lift a little more than everyone else. When the team ran, he focused on having one of the best times.On the field, he let his game speak for itself. He wasn’t hampered down by an overzealous desire to impress his coaches and teammates. He played well in SU’s intrasquad Orange and Blue Game, scoring two goals in a win for the newcomersAnd all that time he spent pushing himself to train harder than his teammates paid off.‘The speed of the game is faster. The kids are bigger, faster, stronger,’ Chong said. ‘You just have to be quick to thinking. You always have to be one step ahead of the game.’cjiseman@syr.educenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img