Top Story, Fall, Men's Soccer

Eagles Rally Twice, Settle for Draw With Rival BU

In the 99th minute of Monday night’s thrilling back-and-forth affair between local rivals Boston College men’s soccer and Boston University, the visiting Terriers, having squandered both a two-goal lead over the course of the second half and a one-goal advantage in the final 10 minutes of regulation, seemed to finally have scored the game-winning goal—one that in overtime, BC couldn’t answer. BU midfielder Mana Chaveli, weary legs and all, sent a bullet destined for the upper right hand corner. Instead, it was batted away at the last minute by Eagles keeper Antonio Chavez-Borelli, the second man between the pipes for head coach Ed Kelly.

In the 100th minute, on the other side of a brief two-minute breather that marked the second overtime, it was BC’s Simon Enstrom with a chance for glory, springing free in the box and managing to head it in the direction of the net. Once again, the potential game-ending goal was foiled, as 6-foot-4 Terriers goaltender William Bonnelyche denied his Swedish countryman the last scoring chance of the match, leaving the contest deadlocked, 3-3, at the final whistle.

It was 110 minutes of pure adrenaline-fueled soccer, a slow first half picking up pace in the waning minutes, then absolute chaos breaking out in the second half. The Terriers (0-1-1) built a 2-0 lead, but like every match between these rivals in any sport, each blow from one side was answered by the other. The Eagles (1-0-1) fought back to equalize in a nine-minute span, prompting drama for the remaining 20 minutes—what once seemed like a decisive victory was suddenly in question.

BU forward Matt McDonnell appeared to put that to rest with his hat-trick completing goal in the 80th minute, but six minutes later, his counterpart atop the rival formation, Enstrom, answered with the equalizer. After 20 more minutes, the draw was sealed—the first between the two rivals in almost 20 years—and several players from both sides simply collapsed onto the well-worn turf in exhaustion. A last ditch free kick from the Eagles as the PA announcer counted down from 10 had resulted in a shot, but it sailed high, a fitting end to a match that was plagued by missed chances.

“It’s always going to be like that with BU,” Kelly said afterward. “You can’t just think you’re going to come in and get a win. It was a very tough game—they battled really hard. We battled and came back and should’ve won—we had chances.”

McDonnell did everything he could to secure the win for the Terriers, netting three goals—all via headers—but breakdowns by his back line within their own 18-yard box proved costly. The junior forward piled up eight shots and three goals, but eventually departed with eight minutes left in overtime, his legs betraying him and his valiant protest to his coach to stay on not quite enough.

The Eagles found their goals from a variety of unexpected places. Down 2-0 in the 61st minute, Kristofer Konradsson, described by Kelly as a free kick specialist, sent a curling ball into the box from 25 yards out. Lasse Lehmann, he of zero career goals, headed it in to the far post—prompting Bonnelyche to look up at the sky and curse his misfortune. Teammate Trevor Davock, who made several runs throughout the game in which he came just shy of getting a good foot on a through ball, was the first to grab the ball, sprinting back to the half to force BU to get going.

The urgency didn’t leave the BC side, and they struck for the equalizer under 10 minutes later—in a similar situation. The ball came in via a corner kick off the foot of Callum Johnson, a second-half substitute who provided an invigorating presence in the midfield, and connected with Abe Bibas—who used all of his tall frame to fight through traffic and send the ball into the back of the net before sprinting to the near sideline. He fought through a Johnson hug, mid-air, before being mobbed by his bench, disappearing amid grey tee-shirts and spraying water bottles.

Soccer is a sport where things can come crashing down just as quickly as they were built up, and that was what happened to the Eagles 10 minutes later. With the crowd volume rising, BC built steady pressure, approaching the reality of a clean slate for the final 19 minutes with hope. Johnson, Enstrom, David Longo, and Joe Kellett all took shots for BC, but they were blocked or skipped wide or soared high. McDonnell, though, didn’t miss when he earned his opportunity—the forward slipped, unknown to the BC defenders caught sleeping, to the far post on a BU free kick and buried a header. It was a goal many in the stands expected as soon as Toti Knuttsson, who already had one assist, stood over the ball with a free kick opportunity from the left sideline while the player in the red No. 8 jersey began to make his run.

Fittingly, three minutes later, Enstrom—who scored both goals for the Eagles in their season-opening win over Quinnipiac—found himself in the right place to knock in the equalizer. Davock’s ball thrown from the sideline—which many times throughout the game had been deflected or the ensuing shot went awry—dropped in amid the crowd for his senior teammate to tuck it home. Enstrom, who entered eighth in BC’s all-time scoring list, merely wagged his finger “no” in the air as he jogged to his eager teammates.

The ensuing 23 minutes featured a golden opportunity for both teams—Chaveli’s shot and Enstrom’s header—but it was fitting that the game ended in a draw. BU failed to hold a lead, while BC’s glaring gaps on defense were enough to hamper what had been solid midfield play and a bevy of scoring opportunities. The Eagles had an edge in shots and drew six more fouls than their opponents, but couldn’t find the back of the net when it mattered most. Ultimately, playing from behind for 30 minutes prevented BC from beating the Terriers for a sixth-straight year.

Featured Image by Bradley Smart / Heights Editor

August 28, 2018

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