Soccer is a sport that can be equally beautiful and ugly to watch, and Boston College men’s soccer’s Friday night contest against Providence was a perfect example of this. In a game that produced both fine build-up play and a plethora of physical tackles, it was Eagles midfielder Beto Luna who was the best representation of the beauty—conversely, he was also partially responsible for the ugly side of the match.
In the seventh minute of the game, midfielder Callum Johnson played an inch-perfect ball over the top that sophomore counterpart Luna didn’t let go to waste. The midfielder, who had made a perfect run in behind the Friars’ backline, used his head to direct the ball over Providence goalkeeper Colin Miller and into the back of the net, giving the Eagles (1-0-2) the early lead and the perfect start to their second road game of the season.
That said, he wasn’t perfect. In a game that started physically and continued to be rough until the final whistle—the teams combined for 35 fouls, 21 in the first half—Luna accounted for the worst foul of the game. After Providence eventually found an equalizer late in the first half, he was assessed a red card with 15 minutes left in regulation. Despite the one-man advantage, Providence couldn’t find a way through the BC back line, as the teams remained deadlocked at one goal apiece throughout the remainder of regulation and two 10-minute overtimes, finishing the game tied, 1-1.
Immediately after Luna gave the Eagles (1-0-2) the lead, BC goalkeeper Antonio Chavez Borrelli, making his first start of the season, was called into action as he pushed an effort from Brendan Constantine wide. This strike set the tone for the remainder of the half, as the Eagles were unable to produce a shot while Providence (1-1-1) had occasional chances among the parade of fouls.
Two corner kicks resulted in one header over the bar from Friars defender Ramzi Qawasmy, while Alex DaCosta pushed an effort from distance wide. Eventually, though, the Friars’ pressure ruptured the Eagles’ back line. Caught out of position, Johnson was forced to commit a foul that cost him a yellow card in the 32nd minute. The resulting free kick was played wide for Malcolm Duncan to serve into the box, and the sophomore defender made no mistake with his delivery. His ball hit the foot of fellow sophomore Tiago Mendonca, whose first-time shot was deflected past Chavez Borrelli, tying the game at one.
The second half produced more of the same, as Providence outshot the Eagles, 10-3, and consistently threatened the BC defense. Chavez Borrelli, who made a career-high nine saves, was forced to make his first save of the half just 10 seconds in, as he pushed aside an effort from Danny Griffin before the resulting corner kick was cleared. Fifteen minutes later, he deflected a fierce drive from the top of the box behind for another corner kick. Despite all his heroics, he also had the woodwork to thank for keeping the score level. Late in the second half, Friars midfielder Kevin Vang played a perfect through ball for Simon Fisher, but his low drive rang the outside of the post.
When the Eagles did get forward, it was Johnson leading many of the attacks. He was on the end of BC’s two best chances of the second half. First, yet another save from Chavez Borrelli led to an Eagles counter, but Johnson put his effort wide. Six minutes later, Johnson found space at the top of the box, but sent his effort flying past the post again.
The Eagles’ struggles getting forward were compounded after Luna’s red card. BC head coach Ed Kelly responded by sending on freshman midfielder Jesus Sahagun to shore up the midfield, and for a time it paid dividends. In between a pair of corner kicks that the Eagles failed to convert, Kristofer Konradsson saw a good effort on goal blocked. But the Friars’ one-man advantage was always going to lead to chances, and once overtime started, they began to pour the pressure on.
The extra period saw the Friars creating all the opportunities. First, Chavez Borrelli pushed aside a shot from Matt Deperro, before watching a header from Kline crash against his crossbar. In the second half of extra time, Mendonca sent another long-range effort over the bar and Klisman Sousa saw his shot saved, but the BC backline, thanks to stellar play from Abe Bibas and Tyler Stott, was able to hold firm. Stott also had the Eagles’ best chance of overtime, but his shot attempt was stopped by Miller.
After the Eagles conceded three goals to crosstown rivals BU on Monday, Kelly has to be encouraged that his team was able to hold the Friars to just one, especially considering that it played a man down for the final 35 minutes. Coming off a season in which the Eagles gave up 1.79 goals per game, some newfound defensive solidarity would be a good sign for BC, as it kicks off the conference slate against Clemson next Friday.
Featured Image by Jake Evans / Heights Staff