Eagles Overcome Slow Start to Beat Albany in High-Scoring Affair

An intermission in Atlantic Coast Conference play is a blessing. Especially for a Boston College men’s soccer team that most recently suffered a 2-0 defeat to No. 2 Syracuse University, and is scheduled to travel to Chapel Hill to face No. 9 North Carolina this coming Friday. Sandwiched between those two matches: a game versus American East Conference opponent, University of Albany.

Though newly unranked, the Eagles were expected to take advantage of Albany, a nonconference opponent with a negative goal differential, on Tuesday. After all, the Great Danes were on their fifth and final stop of their road trip. A stretch that included 3-0 losses to both Depaul and Loyola-Chicago, prior to Albany’s trek to New England.  

Despite a 5-3 victory, the Eagles (5-2-0, 1-1-0 Atlantic Coast) nearly fell victim to a “trap game.”

Both teams used physicality to limit any scoring threats for the initial 10 minutes of the game. Eventually, BC began to maintain possession in its back half, leading to the Eagles’ first scoring chance of the day. A Trevor Davock pass directed Simon Enstrom toward the middle of the box, but Davock’s touch was too strong. Albany’s (3-3-1) goalkeeper, Lucas Vallilo, snatched the ball before Enstrom could make contact. The Great Danes responded with an opportunity of their own in the 14th minute. Keith Traut crossed the ball to Carlos Clark, but Clark’s shot floated left of the net.

But, soon, the scoring marathon began. In the 25th minute, Albany’s Moosah Khanat sent a corner kick to the middle of the box, finding Clark. The sophomore midfielder headed the ball into the left side of the goal. The Great Danes were not finished. Leo Melgar issued a through ball to a wide open Pedro Espindola in the 42nd minute. Espindola trailed into the middle of the box and was tripped by a BC defender, ceding Albany a penalty kick. Melgar took the shot, guiding it past Cedric Saladin and into the bottom left corner of the net, extending Albany’s lead to 2-0.

Finally, BC answered. While pursuing the right side of the field, Isaac Normesinu was taken down by a Great Dane defender in the box in the 44th minute, earning a penalty kick. Maximilian Schulze-Geisthovel blasted the kick past the keeper into the right side of the net, reducing the deficit to 2-1 at the end of the first half.
Then, the Eagles’ offense took off.

BC tied the match in the 50th minute. Enstrom and Normesinu executed a beautiful give-and-go, as Enstrom, moving behind the defender, received a pass from Normesinu and ripped a shot into the goal, his fourth of the season. In the 68th minute, Zeiko Lewis crept past the Albany defense and delivered a pass to Schulze-Geisthovel. The senior midfielder controlled the ball, nicked it up in the air, and rocketed a goal off the volley, giving the German phenom his team-leading sixth goal of the season and second of the game. BC’s fourth goal came in the 75th minute. Receiving a cross from Schulze-Geisthovel, Davock fired a shot that was blocked by Vallilo. Off of the rebound, Enstrom whirled one toward the goal, but Vallilo saved this chance as well. Finally, Lewis finished the play, scoring off of the second rebound, his first goal of the season.

Nevertheless, Albany did not back down. In the 83rd minute, Nico Solabarrieta crossed the ball from the right side of the pitch to Afonso Pinheiro, who then kicked the ball towards the left corner of the goal. It appeared as though Saladin had made the save, poking the ball out of the net’s way. But it had already encroached the goal line, giving the Great Danes their third strike of the match.

With time nearing expiration, the Eagles put the game away. Speeding deep into Albany territory, Lewis took the ball from a Great Dane defender, and scored his second goal of the game on a one-on-one with Vallilo in the 90th minute.

Although BC allowed three goals to an Albany team that had only scored six times all year, the early deficit forced the Eagles’ offense to spread its wings.

Having scored twice, Schulze-Geisthovel thinks today’s performance will prepare him for BC’s date with No. 9 North Carolina.

“It’s very important for me to score goals again, because I didn’t score the last two games,” Schulze-Geisthovel said. “It’s going to give us good momentum to fly to UNC and hopefully compete against the No. 9 team in the nation.”

Additionally, head coach Ed Kelly remarked that Lewis played his best shift of the season in the second half. If the offensive success of Lewis and Schulze-Geisthovel continues, the Eagles could give the Tar Heels a scare.

Even though BC played flat at times, it avoided the “trap.” Kelly felt that the match was a valuable experience for his team.

“In the second half, it was just a matter of, ‘Do you want to win the game or not?’” Kelly said. “They learned that you must have effort and passion. [You must] show the desire to win the game.”

Featured Image by Kyle Bowman / Heights Staff

September 22, 2016