Freshman Halis brings excitement to young Orange
Take even a slight glance at the Syracuse roster and one thing is immediately noticeable: no seniors. Instead, SU has relied on, and will rely on, a bevy of underclassmen in its first year in the tough Atlantic Coast Conference.
Four freshmen have started in each of No. 17 Syracuse’s (2-0-0) two games this season, including Alex Halis, a shifty forward from Brampton, Ontario. The freshman has not only made an impression by scoring goals and dishing out assists, but he’s also brought excitement with an array of nifty moves and creative touches.
“He’s a quality player,” SU head coach Ian McIntyre said. “He’s an exciting player. He’s a player that can make things happen and he can get people off their seats.”
During Monday night’s home opener against Hartwick, Halis promptly introduced himself to the Colvin Street Elite, the group of student fans that sits near the net on East Colvin Street. The forward sped by defenders, put on the breaks and scanned the field. He also mixed in a few backward heel passes.
Halis even made Hartwick senior midfielder Tim Crawford fall. The freshman Halis had possession just feet from the near sideline. His head and eyes went left, and so did Crawford. Halis’ body and the ball went right. The crowd “oohed” and “aahed.”
As Halis goes, McIntyre said, so does Syracuse.
“That’s a good feeling,” Halis said. “It gives you confidence. But to me I feel like if everyone plays good, then it’s better for us. I don’t think it should be one player.”
In both of SU’s games, Halis played a role in the team’s first goal. In SU’s season opener against Colgate – Halis’ collegiate debut – he headed in a ball from Jordan Murrell to give the Orange a 1-0 lead. Against Hartwick, Halis picked up an assist on Grant Chong’s goal early in the second half.
McIntyre called Halis “cutting edge,” comparing him to Nick Perea, Stefanos Stamoulacatos and Emil Ekblom. McIntyre recruits the best players he can, but also the ones that fit his possession style that focuses on precision passing, ball control and creativity.
Halis fits the mold. At 5 feet 9 inches tall, Halis can use his size to elude bigger defenders and his speed to get around them.
In Canada, Halis led the St. Edmund Campion Bears to two straight OFSAA championships and an undefeated 33-0-1 season in 2012. He is also a member of the Canadian Youth National Program and represented Canada at the 2011 U-17 World Cup.
“We’ve been playing together since we were just little kids,” said SU forward Chris Nanco, who played with Halis with St. Edmund Campion and FC Sigma. “We’ve always been together. We’ve created a bond since a young age and it’s a good thing to continue our careers together.”
The connection between the two starters is one reason why the Orange has collected favorable results so far this season.
In order to keep his personal success rolling, Halis said he has to stay positive and work hard.
“He has that little bit of something different,” McIntyre said. “And it won’t always come off. That’s the nature of when you express yourself and when you try some things. But when it does come off, he’s an exciting player to watch.”
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