MEN'S SOCCER: Rain Doesn't Slow Down BC
Medina-Mendez Tallies Two Assists In The ACC Win
Published: Monday, October 1, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
On Friday night, the Boston College men’s soccer team defeated conference opponent North Carolina State, 2-1, during some heavy rain showers at the Newton Sports Complex. Despite a slow offensive first half, the Eagles (5-3-1, 1-1-1 ACC) were given an offensive spark from sophomore Diego Medina-Mendez, who assisted on goals for Stefan Carter and Charlie Rugg. The Wolfpack (7-4-0, 0-3-0) was stunted for the majority of the match, due to a tough defensive effort and torrential rain conditions.
Head coach Ed Kelly was excited to see that his team seems to have begun coming together after facing serious injuries at the start of the season.
“We’re getting some people back. Charles looks much better now,” he said. “[Kyle Bekker] is better. All these guys were hurt at the start. Bekks was playing hurt. We still don’t have [Matt Wendelken]. He’ll maybe be back next week, which will be a big help. Justin [Luthy] had a good game tonight. Things have been a little bit bumpy with all the new guys in the back.”
Junior defender Chris Ager saw the team’s first conference victory as a major milestone for the team as it moves forward.
“It’s massive,” he said. “You can’t even describe how big it is. It was a huge team effort. Everyone came together today. We really needed that.”
The Eagles definitely had the momentum throughout the match’s first half. While the two teams had four shots apiece, BC had the edge with all four shots on net. With 13 minutes left in the half, the Eagles unleashed an onslaught of shots on the Wolfpack goalkeeper. It began when freshman midfielder Jason Abbott blasted a shot from just outside the box. The goalkeeper was able to knock the ball out of play, setting up an Eagles corner kick. Medina-Mendez sent a sharp pass to Rugg, but the goalkeeper was able to make a nice play on the ball.
On the other end, senior goalkeeper Justin Luthy showed good form on his two saves for the night. One play in particular saw NC State cross the net on a free kick, forcing Luthy to block the ball with a sliding Wolfpack forward flying at him. For the most part, the BC defense played physically and was able to detain the NC State offense.
The elements certainly had an impact on the match, as the teams combined for 16 fouls (10 for BC and six for NC State) on the half alone. There were also a number of handballs due to the wet turf.
This turf gets really slippery when it’s wet, which is a good thing really, because the ball moves faster,” Ager said. “However, it gets a little too slippery sometimes, so there are a few freak bounces and this and that, so you have to be a little careful.”
The team’s ability to maintain possession and control the ball in the midfield may have been the deciding factor in the match.
The second half saw the Eagles come flying out of the gate, maintaining their momentum from the first half. The team continued to dominate possession in the midfield, and at the 62-minute mark, Carter put the match’s first score away. Senior Kyle Bekker sent a strong corner into the box, which Rugg sent toward the net. The NC State goalkeeper stopped the initial shot, but Medina-Mendez was able to get a foot on it before Carter sent it home for the game’s first score.
Then, with just under 25 minutes left in the match, Medina-Mendez became a scoring catalyst once more. The forward made a swift steal in between two Wolfpack players before streaking down the right side of the pitch. Rugg, who snuck past the defense on the opposite sideline, ran through the middle of the box to receive the low cross and hit the back of the net, putting the Eagles up 2-0.
NC State managed to get on the board with only a few minutes left to play. Moss Jackson-Atogi sent a ball towards net from the midfield, and teammate Monbo Bokar rushed ahead of the defense. Bokar pushed the ball past Luthy on a slow dribbler to cut the Eagles’ lead in half. This would be all the Wolfpack could muster, however, and the home squad preserved the victory.
Kelly pointed out that this win should influence the team down the road in terms of momentum and conference positioning.
“They’ve lost the last four,” he said of NC State. “They were pretty aggressive at the start, but now they’ve gone 0-3 [in ACC play], so that’s even better. Besides us winning the game, they’re 0-3 and we’re 1-1. That puts us back in. We’ve got a couple of big games coming up. We can go on a bit of a run.”
From the players’ perspective, Ager commented that this was a great team effort, and that the group showed its growth in this match.
“I think communication was big today,” Ager said. “Everyone talked to everyone and was on their game and ready to play. We just helped each other out. It was a huge team effort more than anything else.”