MEN'S SOCCER: A Little Luck
BC Forces Double OT Draw With Notre Dame
Published: Monday, September 23, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 23, 2013 01:09
For 60 minutes on Saturday night, the Boston College men’s soccer team went toe to toe with Notre Dame. Then, when the Eagles lost a midfielder to a red card, the remaining 10 men on the pitch were forced to defend for their lives.
BC hustled, fighting off relentless attacks by the sieging Fighting Irish offense, and in the end, the Eagles battled man-down through 30 minutes of regular time and two periods of overtime to grind out a 1-1 tie with the No. 2 team in the country.
“If you had to ask me at the start, I’d have taken the 1-1 tie, never mind with 10 guys,” said BC head coach Ed Kelly. “That should do a lot for the confidence.”
Newton Campus Field was packed with an energy-charged, official-capacity crowd hoping for exhilarating soccer, and the Eagles and Fighting Irish delivered from the start.
Both teams looked threatening from minute one, and the game quickly became a breathless display of fast-paced, break-neck soccer. On the right wing, freshman Isaac Normesinu looked deadly, taking men on and dangling past defenders.
BC began the game with a new-look defense. Notably absent was veteran center back Chris Ager, who was replaced by senior Nick Corliss.
“We’ve made a switch in the back, Nick is doing well now,” Kelly said.
At right back, freshman Amit Shumowitz got his first start following a successful NCAA eligibility appeal.
“He was fantastic,” Kelly said. “Oh my god, he’s a fantastic player. I don’t think he put a foot wrong.”
The Israel Under-21 National Team player defended masterfully, but became an offensive threat as well, linking and overlapping with Normesinu to repeatedly terrorize defenders on the right wing.
In the 16th minute, Normesinu sent Newton into a fit of euphoria when he tore down the right wing, cut inside, shook past a defender with a brilliant step over, and in the blink of an eye, ripped a darting laser past Notre Dame keeper Patrick Wall.
The crowd was still buzzing and the Eagles were still celebrating when—just 12 seconds later—Notre Dame barreled down the field, forced a defensive error, and equalized.
“Scored a great goal, then we let up so easy,” Kelly said.
“We just switched off for those 30 seconds, it’s a maturity thing. That two minutes after the goal is unbelievable.”
BC and Notre Dame battled for the rest of the half as both teams created moments of brilliant play but failed to capitalize on set pieces. Statistically, the Fighting Irish dominated, recording six shots to the Eagles’ one, but BC was considerably more dangerous than the box score suggested.
The second 45 started with more of the same. Then, in the 60th minute, central-defensive midfielder Nick Butler received a second, soft yellow card, and the game transformed.
Despite roars of disapproval from the unbelieving crowd, the red emerged from the referee’s pocket—creating echoes of Boateng’s ejection two weeks ago—and Butler was out.
“We never have red cards, ever,” Kelly said. “We get an accumulation sometimes, but we’ve had three in six.”
“He barely tipped him, you could easily warn him before you throw him out of the game.”
Down a man but not yet feeling the effects, the Eagles spun into an energized state of outrage, and just minutes later, a point-blank header from left back Matt Wendelken sent Wall scrambling across his net to make an impressive low save.
As the game wore on, playing with 10 men began to eat away at the Eagles, forcing BC to drop deep and focus more on defending. Offensive catalysts Cole DeNormandie and Derrick Boateng became defensive workhorses, and as he struggled with injury, Normesinu’s playing time became limited. BC was just trying to hold on.
Slowly but surely, Notre Dame’s time with possession increased, and the Fighting Irish began wracking up attempts on goal.
In the 74th minute, Notre Dame nearly created a mesmerizing highlight with a shocking blast that narrowly missed from 25 yards out. The Eagles hopes were still alive.
As the minutes ticked away, BC kept working, hoping for a chance on the counter. After holding up the ball and spinning past a defender, Normesinu was almost in on goal thanks to a nice one-two pass with midfielder Diego Medina-Mendez.
In the 79th minute, Eagle keeper Keady Segel was called into action and made a confident save after Notre Dame midfielder Patrick Hodan ripped a knuckling shot from inside the 18.
As exhaustion began to plague the short-handed Eagles, the heart emerged. Under near-constant siege, BC chased, battled, and defended as a team. Time slipped away as attack after attack was repelled, and the beleaguered Eagles forced overtime.
With three minutes left in the first period of golden goal, BC found something it had been short on lately, something nearly as valuable as heart: blind luck.
When the ball landed at the foot of an unmarked Notre Dame forward inside the six-yard box, the crowd at Newton froze in a unified state of horror. All eyes watched—including Segel’s, from the other side of the net—as the ball streaked for the bottom left hand corner of the net.
Then, roughly 2,000 hearts started up again when the ball missed the post by inches.
Despite chance after chance, Notre Dame was unable to capitalize, and the crowd rallied behind the helter-skelter BC defense, which wouldn’t allow the Irish to take control.
Chants of “Let’s go BC” ushered in the second period of golden goal, and for 10 more minutes, the Eagles held strong.
“They were warriors in the back,” Kelly said. “Great game, great game for us.” n