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MEN'S SOCCER: Last-Second Thriller

Boateng Nets The Game-Winner With 11 Seconds Left In Double OT

For The Heights

Published: Monday, September 24, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01

soccer

Graham Beck / Heights Editor

The first 109 minutes of Boston College’s showdown against San Francisco on Saturday afternoon were boring, slow, and not so easy on the eyes. But that last minute changed everything.

With 11 seconds left, boring transformed into jaw-droppingly gorgeous. It was a buzzer-beating wonder strike from freshman midfielder Derrick Boateng that clinched a 2-1 win over the Dons, and allowed every BC fan in attendance to shout with uninhibited joy. Boateng’s game-winner injected a straight shot of life into a talented Eagles team that has struggled early on in its season.

While the game ended with an adrenaline shot to the heart, it certainly didn’t begin that way.

“It was bad, the first half was shocking,” said head coach Ed Kelly. “It got better as it went on, and it was a little bit more exciting, but the first half was like watching paint dry.”

The BC defense may also have been watching paint dry, because in the eighth minute San Francisco tore down the wing, fired home a low cross, and snatched a 1-0 lead. Filling in for veteran goaltender Justin Luthy, who missed his first game after 54 consecutive starts, freshman keeper Alex Kapp had no chance on the play, and was unlucky to have his day started with a goal against.

The early goal failed to inspire either side, and with both teams unable to find their rhythm, the game declined into a tedious midfield battle. Droning on into the second half, neither the Eagles nor the Dons were successful in finding a spark to change the game.

“Every time I tried to move somebody, it didn’t do anything,” Kelly said. “There was no energy.”

Finally, in the 72nd minute the Eagles found some inspiration. Lining up 35 yards out, senior midfielder Kyle Bekker drove a precise free kick into the heart of San Francisco’s penalty area. Unable to fully connect, the Dons’ colossus of a keeper Brendan Roslund muffed his punch, spilling the ball into the danger zone. Boateng was closest, and ripped a shot that deflected to the feet of senior Ryan Dunn, who blasted it into the net. The equalizer brought BC roaring back into the game, but lit a fire under San Francisco’s boots as well.

The rest of the match was a slugfest, with both teams surging on offense, and then retreating to hastily defend. The Dons’ tactical awareness and defensive discipline stifled the fluid Eagle offense at every turn. BC had a great opportunity to score during the first overtime when Stefan Carter was maliciously brought down on the edge of the box, but Bekker’s free kick was turned away by the wall.

Kelly made his plan clear at the start of the second overtime: win or go home. Emerging in an ultra offensive 3-5-2 formation, Kelly dropped a defender so he could keep the electrifying Boateng in the lineup with attack-minded seniors Kevin Mejia and Charlie Rugg. This decision would prove vital for Kelly.

With the clock dwindling and hope fading, Rugg played Boateng the ball, and the speedy midfielder exploded out of the midfield, cut inside, and chipped the ball over the 6-foot-6 Roslund for the walk-off win.

It was a goal of SportsCenter quality, the perfect floating shot that makes coaches, fans, players, and referees alike wonder, “Did that just happen?” Boateng displayed the grace and confidence of a tremendously gifted athlete to hit that upper 90 shot, and when asked what was going through his head before he let it rip, he responded with the humility of a true team player as well.

“I just told myself, ‘Just kick it, it’s just 50/50. It could end up in there, or it could not, but we need a win,’” Boateng said. “We’ve been losing most of our games and we have to win for coach and for the team, so it will boost our confidence.”

With young talents like Boateng mixing with senior excellence, the Eagles hope they can leave their early-season jitters behind them and use Saturday’s win to build on their 3-3-1 record.

“It ended with a special goal,” Kelly said. “So we’ll just take the win, move on. They must be brokenhearted.”

Still visibly excited from Boateng’s late heroics, he added with a chuckle, “I’m mentally exhausted from watching that game.”

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