Eagles Dominate Quinnipiac in Season Opener

Season-opening wins, especially those of the nonconference variety, should be taken with a grain of salt. After all, Boston College men’s soccer hasn’t lost a season opener at home since 2008, and that hasn’t always translated into lasting success. Even still, with a pair of highlight-reel goals, lockdown defense, and unprecedented depth off the bench, Ed Kelly’s crew gave fans plenty of reasons to be excited on Friday evening.

In their 4-0 victory over Quinnipiac University, the Eagles (1-0) scored early and often in front of a crowd of 500 people at Newton Campus Field. Simon Enstrom, BC’s returning leading scorer, started things off in the 7th minute with a low bullet to the near post that snuck past the Bobcat goalkeeper.

Two minutes later, the Eagles were knocking on the door again. Mohammed Moro linked up with first-time starter Nikita Bondar for a one-two passing combination that left Moro wide open around the corner of the penalty box. The senior, who can play just about anywhere on the pitch, wound up and delivered a bender with his left foot that curled beautifully into the far corner of the net to make it 2-0.

Another fresh face got in on the action for BC before halftime. Heidar Aegisson, a sophomore who recently played with Iceland’s U-21 National Team, threaded the needle with a textbook through ball to Enstrom in the 24th minute. Instead of shooting, however, the Swedish attacker flicked the ball back to Joshua Forbes, who put the one-timer away for an easy finish.

Sophomore Jack Bacon made his second career start in goal for BC, filling in nicely for Cedric Saladin. He was only challenged once, but proved reliable with a diving save to his right.

Just before the half, Forbes got caught in a scuffle with a Quinnipiac defender after the whistle and appeared to kick the ball at him out of frustration. After a firm talk, the head official revealed a red card and sent Forbes off for good.

Down a man in the second half, BC’s offense stalled as possession took priority over the attack. With 15 minutes remaining in the match, though, the Eagles added to their lead after Aegisson stole the ball around midfield and triggered a fastbreak. His pass sped through the legs of his defender before finding Callum Johnson sprinting down the left side. The sophomore midfielder took a couple touches toward the middle and fired a rocket from at least 25 yards out. The Quinnipiac keeper didn’t stand a chance as he watched the screamer stay just below the crossbar for BC’s fourth goal of the afternoon, giving Aegisson his second assist of the day.

“I thought Heidar [Aegisson] was maybe the man of the match,” Kelly said of the first-time starter. “He was all the over place—getting the ball, moving it, picking out things. He just has to get used to the game.”

For the final 45 minutes, freshman Antonio Chavez Borrelli replaced Bacon in goal. A fellow underclassman, Borreli maintained the shutout with a few diving saves, but both largely avoided trouble thanks to the Eagles’ dominant back line. The dynamics of the defense are promising, to say the least—Len Zeugner (6-foot-4) and Tommy Gudmundsson (6-foot-5) provide size in the middle, Raphael Salama is a big body who can still keep up with speedy forwards, and Boudadi and Moro offer tremendous playmaking potential from the right and left back positions, respectively.

Perhaps the most impressive part was how dominant they were with 10 men, and yet how much more they still had in their back pocket. Zeugner, arguably the most talented player on the roster, didn’t see the field at all because Kelly is still easing him back from injury. Johnson came off the bench along with Beto Luna, and forward Trevor Davock didn’t even suit up in uniform. The absence of the flashy Zeiko Lewis was, surprisingly, unnoticable.

It’s clear that what the team lost in quickness and flare it gained in stability and depth. But even with its strongest foundation in years, the question remains: How far can the Eagles go in the toughest conference in college soccer?

 Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor

August 25, 2017