MEN'S SOCCER: Eagles Give Blue Devils First Conference Win, Continue Slide
Published: Monday, October 21, 2013
Updated: Monday, October 21, 2013 09:10
Zeiko Lewis tied his shoes, while Nana Boateng wandered behind him. The freshman striker stood up, and Boateng jogged into the 18-yard box, tucking in behind the Duke wall. Silence fell over the Newton campus soccer field for a moment. Then a thud, as Lewis’s left foot made contact with the ball. It was a curler. But a curler that would meet the head of a Duke defender in a compact six-man wall. The horn sounded and the match came to an end. Boateng sat on the ground in disbelief. A second straight ACC defeat was too much to take.
Boston College’s bench was silent after the game, until head coach Ed Kelly brought the team out to the 18-yard box they had defended in the second half for a lengthy team talk.
“They’re just not taking responsibility for each other,” Kelly said. “We told them at the start of the game do not accept any bad behavior from anybody on the field. It just doesn’t work.”
The team went without three starters. Amit Shumowitz was out injured along with Ryan Dunn, while Nick Corliss has gone on sabbatical, according to Kelly.
Without the trio, the coaching staff was forced into making several changes. Dylan Pritchard was given a place in the starting 11 at right back, while Matt Wendelken played down the left.
BC got off to a strong start, creating its first chance seven minutes into the match. A lovely change of fields from Lewis saw the freshman launch the ball into the path of Diego Medina-Mendez on the left. The junior midfielder then cut the ball across for an incoming Isaac Normesinu who skied his effort over the bar.
But the match went terribly wrong three minutes later, as a harmless ball from Brody Huitema was lofted to the tip of the BC penalty area. Atobra Ampadu misjudged the ball while it was in the air, allowing Tyler McDaniel to head it to Nick Palodichuk, who controlled the ball and tapped his half-volley over Alex Kapp’s shoulder.
“Giving up the one goal again puts us on our back heels and we end up spending all our time trying to force it, and force it, and force it,” Kelly said. “Another bad goal. Lack of discipline from our guys.
“Toby had a quiet night again. He’s gotta be more physical, more energy, and more determined to win a ball. Isaac had a quiet night too. Too much playing in the middle.”
After Duke took its advantage, they nearly doubled it two minutes later, but Matt Eggleston put his header wide.
For the next quarter of an hour, the visitors dominated possession, while the Eagles looked to equalize on the counter attack.
A tactical change was made on the half-hour mark, when Cole DeNormandie was introduced in place of Medina-Mendez.
DeNormandie, who started the season as a forward, has found himself forced into midfield after suffering from an injury. The Lincoln native did well in the middle of the park to break up Duke’s forward movement, as he played alongside Giuliano Frano in the second half.
Ampadu nearly leveled the match before the intermission, but his half-volley was scooped up by Alex Long, who managed four saves on the night—the same amount as his counterpart, Kapp.
BC was more impressive in the second half. Three minutes past halftime, the Eagles felt they should have been awarded a penalty kick. Normesinu sent Lewis through via a chipped ball and the freshman No. 19 was dragged down in the box, without a whistle to be heard.
Lewis had another volley saved after 56 minutes of play.
The game was quiet until Boateng was cautioned in the 70th minute. Jonathan Aguirre of Duke was booked six minutes later.
Seven minutes from full time, Kelly pushed Chris Ager into the midfield, putting his team into a 3-5-2, as they searched for an equalizer at the death.
The tactical change was representative of the Eagles injury struggles. With a neat shape, that is suiting to all the starters, this is a dangerous side that would beat Duke.
Missing key players to injury is the team’s biggest problem.
“It does change the way we’re playing,” Kelly said. “[Shumowitz is] a top player and we have Dylan playing there and he did a fine job, but that’s not the point. Dunny is the best center back we have and he’s out.”
To fight for a spot in the NCAA tournament, the team will have to get healthy fast.
“We need to get Dunny back and we need to get Shummy back,” said Kelly of his team’s job for the week, “That’s our work and our tactics, getting those two guys back in the lineup.”
Kelly was also left ruing a problem his team has had all year—falling behind early in the game.
“We dominated the second half again,” Kelly said. “We go a goal down and then they defend for their lives. We didn’t miss too many chances.”
They did have that final free kick which failed to test the Duke keeper, though just like most things for men’s soccer it was not meant to be.
“It’s just not going our way right now,” Kelly said.