Top Story, Fall, Men's Soccer

Thanks to Devlin’s Last-Minute Heroics, BC Ties Minutemen in Exhibition Opener

Boston College and Massachusetts men’s soccer are trending in opposite directions—at least, judging by the 2017 season. Last fall, the Eagles endured two four-game losing streaks, finished 1-6-1 in the ACC, and missed out on the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three years. Meanwhile, their in-state rivals recorded their first winning season since 2009 and made their first College Cup appearance in 10 years, winning the Atlantic 10 Championship in the process.

But on Wednesday afternoon, the two schools couldn’t have been more even. BC rallied back from a pair of one-goal deficits, most notably scoring in the 88th minute, to tie the Minutemen, 2-2, in the teams’ first exhibition match of the season.

In 2017, the Eagles conceded 1.79 goals per game—the most of any ACC team. They looked the part in the first half of Wednesday’s scrimmage. UMass midfielder Davis Smith opened up the scoring early, jumpstarting the Minutemen’s offense. And the defending A-10 champions could have just as easily increased their lead in the first period.

Luckily for BC head coach Ed Kelly, the Eagles’ back line upped the ante. In the 15th minute, UMass launched two free kicks from 60 yards out—on both occasions, the Minutemen attempted to loft the ball over the top, yet Joshua Forbes and Callum Johnson had other plans. First, Forbes—who served as a team captain and totaled a career-high five points last season—averted danger by simply passing the ball back to goalkeeper Antonio Chavez Borrelli with a few forwards on his heels. Moments later, Johnson spoiled a UMass corner kick, forcing a Minuteman out of bounds for a BC throw-in.

If any Eagle was going to score in the first half it was going to be Johnson. The New York Red Bulls Academy member blasted a shot off a rebound inside the 18, but watched as the ball’s flight path seamingly changed after ricocheting off a body in the middle of the pitch. Interestingly enough, it was a deflection that eventually got BC on the board.

During the early stages of the second half, Trevor Davock pushed the ball toward the right post before ultimately lifting it in the direction of the UMass cage. On its way there, it deflected past the Minutemen goalkeeper, equalizing the match at one goal apiece.

Soon enough, UMass regained the lead, courtesy of a Konrad Gorich strike—the same player that sent the Minutemen to the A-10 Championship after notching the game-winner against Fordham last November. Unfortunately for the Eberbach, Germany native, Wednesday’s goal wouldn’t have nearly the same effect.

With two minutes remaining in the exhibition, Lasse Lehmann keyed up a corner kick, and Fintan Devlin—a reserve who had yet to score a goal in a BC uniform—finished the play near the left post, all but securing the 2-2 draw.

Perhaps if the ball bounced the right way, BC could have even pulled out the win. Earlier in the scrimmage, Forbes dialed up a pass for Roni Diniz down the right side of the field. It appeared as if the junior was going to win the ball, but a UMass defender swooped in to disrupt the potential scoring chance. Then, in the 76th minute, Alex Mieles got a great look on net from 20 yards out, but ripped a shot just wide of the cage. All things considered, though, Kelly has to be pleased with his team’s scoring production.

After all, the Eagles only averaged 1.29 goals per game in 2017—the fourth-fewest in the ACC. Even worse, when playing ranked conference opponents, BC was outscored, 17-1. Finding the back of the net twice against a team like UMass is a vote of confidence, preseason or not.

The Eagles will get another crack at a 2017 NCAA Tournament opponent on Saturday: Colgate, the team that bounced the Minutemen in the first round of the College Cup and reached its first-ever Sweet Sixteen last fall.

Featured Image by Lizzy Barrett / Heights Senior Staff

August 16, 2018