Boston College men’s soccer continued a season-long narrative during Friday night’s matchup against Wake Forest. The Eagles fell to the Demon Deacons, 2-1, marking the 11th-straight game that has been decided by one goal or less this season. The Eagles (4-4-3, 2-4 Atlantic Coast) truly gave it their all in what was a physical showdown, but still ended up on the wrong side of the scoreboard.
The matchup was the 10th iteration of the Genna Wiley Memorial Match, a tradition established to honor the wife of a Wake Forest trainer who lost her life to breast cancer. She passed away in 2007, just days after Wake Forest won the national championship. The No. 2 Demon Deacons (13-1, 5-1) adorned pink jerseys with Wiley’s name on the back in her memory.
From the get-go, it was clear that BC could match the play of the second-best team in the country. The Eagles had several scoring opportunities in the first 15 minutes of regulation. Lasse Lehmann fed a brilliant pass to Simon Enstrom, who was mere feet away from the goal before Wake Forest goalkeeper Andreu Cases Mundet stuffed the ball. Shortly after, Enstrom and Heidar Aegisson each forced saves on their respective headers.
In the 30th minute, there was a scrum between BC defender Joshua Forbes and Wake Forest midfielder Bruno Lapa, who originally instigated the encounter by kicking Forbes in the leg. Forbes retaliated by flipping Lapa over and proceeding to push him. Both players were initially assessed yellow cards. But after the referees reviewed the tape on the video monitor, the call was changed, and both players received red cards, sending Forbes and Lapa to the showers.
These were significant losses for both teams. Forbes is a senior captain for BC and plays a critical role on defense. With Lapa’s ejection, Wake Forest lost a player who had contributed nine goals and eight assists on the year. From that point forward, each team played the rest of the game with only 10 players.
Near the end of the first half, Wake Forest capitalized on Forbes’ absence. In the 43rd minute, Sam Raben launched a cross from the end line into the box. Kyle Holcomb and BC goalkeeper Antonio Chavez-Borelli each jumped up for the service, but Holcomb headed it in the air toward the goal. With the ball in the air and Chavez-Borelli out of position, Michael DeShields tracked down the cross and converted the scoring play. This was DeShields’ second career goal and the first of many big plays that the redshirt sophomore made throughout the night.
Coming out of the half, BC maintained the same aggressive style of play. And it didn’t take long for the offense to find the back of the net. In the 55th minute, Trevor Davock made a sliding pass to Aegisson, whose shot was deflected by Mundet. The deflection landed at the feet of Davock. He proceeded to boot a shot that found the corner of the net. The game was now tied at one goal apiece.
Twenty minutes later, Wake Forest responded. After the Eagles successfully cleared out a Demon Deacons corner, Aristotle Zaris dribbled the ball to the end line and behind the BC defense. He successfully centered the ball to Alistair Johnston, who converted the goal from a short distance. Wake Forest now found themselves up, 2-1, with 15 minutes left in the game.
Despite the setback, the Eagles kept fighting. During the final minutes, BC was consistently putting up good shots on goal. Its last real opportunity came in the 83rd minute. Wake Forest successfully defended against a BC corner, but the Eagles retained possession. A cross was lifted into the box, where it was headed by BC straight toward the goal. The ball appeared to be sailing past Mundet, but DeShields stepped in at the last minute and headed the ball out of play. The Wake Forest defense held in the face of some last-ditch attempts from the Eagles’ offense and prevailed, 2-1.
The game was a thrilling physical showdown. Both teams combined for a total of 19 fouls, two red cards, and two yellow cards. The Eagles and the Demon Deacons displayed admirable effort and, at the conclusion of the game, several BC players were on the ground due to sheer fatigue. Incredibly, the Eagles outshot the Demon Deacons, 18-7, yet still lost.
Holding Wake Forest to only seven shots was a particularly impressive feat, considering that the Demon Deacons have averaged 14 a game. Prior to tonight, BC had lost its prior five meetings with Wake Forest, and it was outscored by a combined 16-1 in those meetings.
Quite simply, Friday night’s matchup didn’t fit the lopsided nature of the teams’ rivalry. Rather, it was a tough loss for the Eagles. A marquee win over Wake Forest would have been a significant boost to BC’s resume for the NCAA tournament. That said, the one-goal defeat could be seen as a morale victory.
BC played hard for the entire duration of the game, and head coach Ed Kelly’s crew never looked outmatched. The contest proved that the Eagles really can compete with any team in the country, they just have to find a way to close out these games. BC has defeated ACC rivals Clemson and N.C. State, but as the season draws to a close, the window for recording a few more resume-building victories is rapidly closing.
Featured Image by Jake Evans / Heights Staff