Sports can be really boring. Even when they’re boring, though, there’s usually something that can be labeled interesting, as a certain tactic negated a play or turned one player loose. Other times, the game is just bad. Passes are poorly placed, play gets disjointed and movement stops.
That’s what happened in Boston College men’s soccer’s snooze fest against Dartmouth, in which the Big Green set the Eagles’ season back even further with a 1-0 triumph on a winner from Alex Adelabu 33 seconds from the death. The senior forward slipped behind BC’s defense to get on the end of a cross at the far post for a tap in to beat BC goalkeeper Keady Segel.
Adelabu tortured BC’s back line during the match by pressing and using his large frame to hold up play.
“They were physical and the No. 14 [Adelabu] runs things down and has a turn of pace, and is an honest player,” said associate head coach John Murphy. “They had good energy and cohesion. If only for Keady Segel, it would have been much, much worse, so that was one of the better performances from a goalkeeper that I’ve seen in a long, long time.”
Segel was superb. The senior saw the field for the first time since last season, due to his status as the back up to the team’s starter, junior Alex Kapp. The keeper was called on immediately to make a kick save before five minutes of the match had elapsed. It was the first of many tests Segel would face. Segel started the second half with a double kick save, and with BC playing a higher line, he also had to come out to sweep up a long ball on 59 minutes.
He used his feet again 17 minutes from time, before getting on the floor to stuff a cross that was being cut back to a Dartmouth player on the top of the box.
“The unfortunate part about being a goalkeeper is the second best midfielder plays, second best defender plays, second best goalkeeper sits,” Murphy said. “I’ve spent my life working with goalkeepers and Keady’s professionalism, his attitude and his work rate throughout the year put him in the position to play as well as he did tonight, because I’ve seen guys in similar situations kind of go in the dumper a little bit, psychologically, and then when their chance comes they’re not ready to perform.”
Segel saved the Eagles on a night when the midfield was disjointed. BC tried to play probing soccer and wanted to work the ball out of the back, which is something it has done all season. None of that worked on Tuesday night. Henry Balf and Nick Butler were put into the center of midfield to work the ball around, but could not get it forward.
“We’ve been trying to put our marker down this year as a team that keeps the ball in passing, so it was disappointing from our perspective, but games this time of year, they get very, very tight and you’re playing cohesive teams,” Murphy said.
Playing as the lone striker, Cole DeNormandie tried to work the angles in front of the rearguard, as the Big Green used a well-organized 4-1-4-1 to stop BC.
DeNormandie wanted to get into the space to the left and right of the defensive midfielder, but his team could not get the ball to him.
“It’s very difficult to play well as a lone striker and I think he got crowded out quite well by Dartmouth,” said Murphy.
Once BC’s attack became stagnant, it was easier for Dartmouth’s defenders to track the senior, and Eagles were locked into their own half.
The defeat might set back the team’s confidence, but its ACC Tournament hopes were not affected by the result, as the Eagles must beat No. 3 Syracuse on the road in their final match of the year to have a shot at entry into the postseason. Even if BC wins, its future hinges on Clemson beating NC State.
“You just would’ve liked us to have a better performance going into such a game, and give some confidence as well, but soccer’s a funny game,” Murphy said.
Against the Orange, the Eagles will need to play the game of their lives and get a bit of luck, so that maybe they’ll get the chance to play in their conference tournament.
Featured Image by Drew Hoo / For The Heights