first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on October 5, 2016 at 11:43 pm Contact Matt: [email protected] | @matt_schneidman Jonathan Hagman knew the feeling of not being able to break through all too well. After the starters scrimmaged the substitutes during last Tuesday’s practice and the subs ran the starters “to the bone,” he could relate to how most of them would feel sitting on the bench during Syracuse’s game against North Carolina that Friday.“We were actually talking about this … me and him,” senior midfielder Sergio Camargo said. “Hagman’s like, ‘That used to be me. I understand where they’re coming from. I worked my ass off in practice but didn’t get into games.’“He’s been through it and that’s how he got here.”Hagman, a sophomore, spent a year behind in the attacking midfield pecking order. Buescher was arguably Syracuse’s best player in 2015, tallying eight goals and a team-high 11 assists, and now plays for Major League Soccer’s D.C. United. Hagman saw time in 11 games last year but didn’t register a goal or assist.This season, Hagman has established himself as the starter at one of two attacking midfield spots along with Camargo for No. 3 Syracuse (8-2-1, 2-1-1 Atlantic Coast). He’s tied for third on the team with a trio of goals, and SU may need another amid its current three-game winless streak when the Orange visits No. 8 Louisville (8-1-2, 3-0-1) on Friday at 7 p.m.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“Jonathan really worked hard in the offseason to kind of transform himself physically and now he provides us quality on the ball,” head coach Ian McIntyre said, “and he’s scored some very important goals for us.”Tony D. Curtis | Staff PhotographerThe most important of those goals was a cracking volley from the edge of the 18-yard box in sudden-death overtime against St. John’s on Sept. 4. Syracuse fell behind, 2-1, with 25 minutes to play but it was ultimately Hagman’s first-career goal that sent SU into a frenzy and improved its record to 4-0.Against then-No. 15 Boston College, Hagman’s goal right after halftime broke a scoreless tie and propelled the Orange to a 2-0 win. He pounced on a loose ball 25 yards out from goal, one-timing it on the ground just inside the right post and past the outstretched left arm of Eagles goalie Cedric Saladin.Hagman’s third goal, the third in a 3-1 win against Cornell, came with no celebration. It put a game the Orange dominated out of reach, and he understandably prefers the aftermath of his goal against St. John’s the most.“I don’t want to brag, but I always used to score,” Hagman said. “I know I had it in me.”The biggest transformation in Hagman’s game, though, doesn’t show up on a box score. He points to his defensive improvements, made possible by an offseason of adding muscle, that have rounded out a repertoire that always had offensive potential.When playing back home in Sweden, there was a lot less man marking, Hagman said. The style of play in the United States, especially during the heart of ACC play, is far more physically demanding.“What I was struggling a lot with last year was the defensive part of the game,” he said. “I think that’s been a big part of the transformation so far.”Camargo likened Hagman to Juuso Pasanen, one of the defensive midfielders on last year’s College Cup team. Neither is overly athletic. But both are highly skilled when the ball is at their feet and know exactly where to be in space when it’s not.Hagman won’t always stand out to a casual viewer with his flash like Camargo or Chris Nanco will. The majority of his minutes will be spent switching the field or connecting passes from Syracuse’s middle third into the attacking third.But if he continues having a knack for the big play, which Syracuse is in desperate need of to snap out of its funk, Hagman won’t fly under the radar much longer.“He was probably our best player in the spring. We expected him to be better this year and important player for us,” senior Oyvind Alseth said. “He’s done that.” Commentslast_img