Fall, Men's Soccer

Men’s Soccer Preview: What to Know About BC in 2018

Last season, Boston College men’s soccer managed just one conference win, limping to a 6-10-1 record and missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three years. So, with a frustrating season behind him, Eagles head coach Ed Kelly, entering his 31st year with the program, hit the recruiting trail—hard. Kelly pulled in 10 freshmen and three transfers, reloading with a 30-man roster that’s the largest he’s overseen since arriving in Chestnut Hill in 1988.

The influx of talent, both potential and well-established, bodes well for a BC team that has managed just one season above .500 throughout the past five years. Part of the struggle to break even undoubtedly traces back to the extremely difficult ACC schedule, but the Eagles are an established Division I program that reached the NCAA Quarterfinals just a few years ago. They have the pieces to hold their own—even in a conference that features seven top-25 teams.

2017 Season in Review

Suddenly without an established goalkeeper at the start of last season, Kelly threw freshman Antonio Chavez-Borelli into the fire, and the Eagles responded with a pair of 4-0 shutouts over Quinnipiac and Boston University in the first two games. It was a seemingly perfect start, but, soon enough, things sharply declined. BC dropped its next three games—including a painful double-overtime decision to Xavier—and never fully recovered. The Eagles would go on to later lose four in a row, and a late push that featured overtime wins against Syracuse and Connecticut wasn’t enough to dig out of the early hole.

The year ended in fitting fashion—a painful 4-0 shutout in the first round of the ACC Tournament by a much more talented Virginia team. Forward Simon Enstrom averaged over a point per game with a career-best nine goals while Younes Boudadi racked up eight assists, but, at the end of the day, individual numbers didn’t make up for what was altogether a disappointing season. Flashes of potential were seen, but many of the well-known players on the roster were on their way out.

Roster Transition

Departures: CM Henry Balf, CB Tomas Gudmundsson, M Mohammed Moro, F Younes Boudadi, B Lennart Zeugner

Three key players throughout the last few years were lost to graduation—Balf started 52 games in his time on the Heights, Gudmundsson was a key transfer from Coastal Carolina and stood a towering 6-foot-5 in the box, and Moro played a little bit of every position for Kelly. Two more opted to transfer out, with the biggest loss arguably being Boudadi. The rising junior had a career year in 2017, but moved on to Creighton. Zeugner, meanwhile, leaves after an injury-plagued BC career and will suit up for Syracuse this year.

Incoming transfers: F Ronaldinho Diniz (Wheaton), M Joe Kellett (Massachusetts Lowell), D David Longo (Florida International)

The group of players entering the Eagles’ ranks features three players with college experience, with two probable starters from the get-go. Kellett arrives after a solid tenure with the River Hawks, having 34 starts over two years and America East All-Rookie honors under his belt. A dependable midfielder, Kellett should earn plenty of minutes, especially with BC star Heidar Aegisson missing time due to injury. Longo will be a key piece of the back line for the Eagles—he anchored the FIU defense as a freshman and will step into a similar role this season. Diniz is a bench piece, but a talented one at that—he’s a lightning-fast forward that scored 15 goals in 20 games with Wheaton as a freshman, clearly overmatching the Division III competition.

Key freshmen: GK Joe Fryatt, M Tyshawn Rose, B Tyler Stott, F Carlos Dulcey, B Ivan Postolka, M Kristofer Konradsson

With 10 incoming freshmen, it’s hard to cover each player in detail. Still, there’s several that are likely starters, and even more that could compete for minutes. Stott has entered the preseason and quickly slotted himself into a potential starting role on the back line. A local kid from Westborough, Stott plays club soccer for NEFC and piled up the accolades in the Northeast Region. Konradsson arrives from Iceland, where he’s in the national team program, and draws comparisons to Aegisson, who started 16 games in his debut season.

Rose, Postolka, and Dulcey have all impressed in the preseason as well, seamlessly making the transition to the college game. Postolka, a Croatian, has done well to cross the Atlantic and fit into the back line with ease—he’ll likely come off the bench. Rose and Dulcey have shown flashes of scoring potential in both scrimmages, earning a mention in Kelly’s assessment of the roster.

Fryatt might be the most interesting of the group, though. The English goalkeeper has pushed Chavez-Borelli in preseason camp, enough for a “too early to tell” answer from Kelly when naming the starting goaltender. Fryatt, a member of the Derby County Academy, notably performed well in England’s Youth Cup two summers ago—including an impressive penalty shootout win over Manchester United’s prospects in which he stopped three shots.

Projected Starters

Forwards: Enstrom will be joined up top by fellow senior Trevor Davock, fully recovered from a pair of surgeries that cost him his 2017 campaign. The playmakers are more than familiar with each other, having spent the last four years together, and the experience bodes well for Kelly’s squad. Enstrom had a career year last season, and if he can return to that form while Davock continues where he left off as a freshman, the Eagles will certainly improve upon last year’s scoring output, a goal total that ranked 10th in the ACC.

Midfielders: Even with Aegisson—arguably BC’s top player—out for the short-term, Kelly has depth to turn to. Kellett, Lasse Lehmann, and Callum Johnson are likely the three center midfielders in the 3-5-2, with Joshua Forbes and Konradsson being the two wing backs. Of course, plenty could change, as could the arrangement, but those five are who one would expect to make the start. The three returners are all very talented—Forbes is a captain who’s been incredibly consistent, Lehmann has been a regular contributor since his All-ACC freshman season, and Johnson picked up the slack left by Davock’s injury with 11 points as a sophomore. Kellett can also be classified as a returner, as touched upon above, as he’s had plenty of starts in his career. The final spot will certainly go to a freshman, at least until Aegisson returns, and only time will tell whether it’s Konradsson or Rose.

Defenders: Longo and returnee Abe Bibas will anchor the back line, while Stott and Postolka will likely battle for the third spot. Bibas had a more limited role last season with Moro, Balf, and Raphael Salama all starting with regularity, but has played well this fall. He started seven of eight conference games and will be a key piece this season.

Goalkeepers: It’s too close to call, with Kelly naming Fryatt as the biggest threat to the incumbent in Chavez-Borelli. That’s without mentioning the third goaltender in freshman Christian Garner, a NEFC and prep school product that could make a late push for the starting job.

Schedule Analysis

BC didn’t exactly get the easiest conference draw in 2018. The way the ACC schedules the eight-game slate is so each team plays the other five in its division, then three crossover games. The Eagles are a member of the Atlantic, so they’ll play No. 11 Clemson (Sept. 7), No. 6 Louisville (Sept. 14), North Carolina State (Oct. 5), No. 5 Wake Forest (Oct. 12), and Syracuse (Oct. 26). For the crossover games, BC nearly drew the Coastal Division’s top three teams as they face No. 3 North Carolina (Oct. 19), No. 10 Duke (Sept. 21), and No. 17 Notre Dame (Sept. 28). It’s a brutal slate. Last season, the Eagles went 0-3 in crossover matches, and that included Virginia Tech, which finished an even .500 on the year. The conference schedule will never be remotely easy in the ACC, but this year’s is more difficult than most.

It’s the usual suspects on the non-conference slate—Quinnipiac (Aug. 24) and BU (Aug. 27) have been BC’s season-opening opponents each of the last three seasons, with the Eagles going a combined 6-0 over that span. After that, the games include Providence (Aug. 31), Holy Cross (Sept. 11), Connecticut (Sept. 18), Harvard (Oct. 9), and Rhode Island (Oct. 23)—a regular who’s who of the Northeast Division I schools. BC needed overtime to knock off both the Friars and Huskies a season ago and beat the Crimson, 3-1. The trickiest matchup might be with the Rams in the non-conference finale, as URI ventured to Newton and beat the Eagles last year.  

Featured Image by John Evans / Heights Editor

August 20, 2018