Men’s Soccer Completes Wild Comeback Against UConn

Things looked dark for Boston College men’s soccer. But head coach Ed Kelly’s squad overcame dim lights and a 2-0 deficit to pull out a 3-2 comeback win in overtime against the University of Connecticut on Tuesday evening.

The Eagles (6-8-0) got off to a rough start against the Huskies. UConn (7-4-2) scored early in the 9th minute on a header by Abdou Mbacke Thiam on a perfect cross to the back post. From there, the battle moved to the midfield. And BC won that battle.

The Eagles dominated possession in the midfield, and for most of the half, the back line held strong. But they were unable to create meaningful chances, often getting got trapped in the wings when they moved the ball forward. BC had to create their chances from far out, including a long-range effort from forward Simon Enstrom that dipped just over the bar in the 39th minute.

The Huskies’ strategy was simple: counterattack. With BC comfortably holding the ball in the midfield, UConn had to wait for sloppy or late passes. In the last few minutes of the first half, the Huskies showed that counter attack is lethal. Stealing the ball near their own box, only two passes and a few seconds were needed for shot to the BC’s side netting.

The lights came on in the second half. The dim field with dark corners suddenly became clear—someone had forgot to turn the field lights on high. But for BC, it had to get darker before the dawn.

BC applied more pressure, but UConn kept counterattacking. In fact, the only direction they could go in was forward. If there wasn’t a man in front, the Huskies lost the ball. But they stilled forced BC’s goalie, Antonio Chavez Borelli, to make some magic. In the 56th minute, UConn’s Niko Pedris slipped received a through ball to go one on one with the goalie. Chavez Borelli came off his line and blocked the shot. In 63rd, a brilliant backheel through ball by Mbacke Thiam setup Munir Saleh to go one one with Chavez Borelli. He bravely went off of his line again, cutting Saleh’s angle and forcing him to go to far right and put in a cross. Chavez Borelli saved the header off that one, too.

And then, the darkest point. In the 78th minute, Joshua Forbes sent a lazy pass back to Chavez Borelli. UConn’s Austin DaSilva picked it off, dribbled it to the goal line, and for good, unnecessary measure, fired a shot into the back of the net.

And finally, the dawn. BC came roaring back, determined to make their possession and their chances finally count. Callum Johnson sent a beautiful pass behind the defense to the running Simon Enstrom, who hammered home a shot long in the making to the top left corner. The keeper didn’t have a chance, and the Eagles cut the lead in half.

BC desperately sought the equalizer, and it came in the most romantic of minutes: the 90th. A long throw into UConn’s box by Heidar Aegisson, helped by nudging head of Rafael Salama, found Forbes at the far post. It had to find him there, and of course Forbes had to head it in. The Eagles had their equalizer, and Forbes had his redemption.

The Eagles and the Huskies went into sudden-death overtime. In the first 10-minute half, BC had chances. But in the second half, it had its golden goal, courtesy of Callum Johnson after 103 minutes of play. A cross into Uconn’s box was weakly parried outside of the box. Callum Johnson didn’t need a touch. From outside of the box, he buried a one-timer into the bottom left corner for a BC overtime victory. Someone might have thought it was déja vu. Callum Johnson had just scored an overtime game-winner against Syracuse last Friday.

The Eagles rallied back from a 2-0 deficit, scoring three unanswered goals against a UConn team that had only let up eight in its previous games. For most of the game, BC kept possession and kept the pressure on UConn. But it wouldn’t have been possible without the impeccable performance of Chavez Borelli. The resilience of the team was not lost on Kelly.

“We have a lot of fight, they’re starting to really believe it in. The effort, the character, it was like, ‘How do we come back?’ Josh gives a goal away and then he scores one in the last 45 seconds or something” Kelly said. “Just the fight was tremendous, they just wouldn’t give in. They’re tough, I mean they’re tough. It was a great win for us, great character stuff.”

With this win, the Eagles have momentum going into Saturday’s game against a fearsome Wake Forest team, currently ranked No. 2 in the nation. Kelly is optimistic, though.

“There’s no stopping us,” Kelly said. “I mean if we can do that, we can go out and do anything.”

Featured Image by Tiger Tao / Heights Staff

October 18, 2017