Following its two disappointing losses in conference play, Boston College men’s soccer sought to bounce back with a matchup against a local foe. The Eagles welcomed in Massachusetts, which was also mired in a two-game losing streak.
The game between a pair of Northeast programs seeking to right the ship came down to one costly foul, but it was BC that snapped its losing streak on the strength of a 48th-minute penalty kick goal from Joe Kellett, handing the Minutemen a 1-0 shutout loss.
While the starting lineup for the Eagles (5-2) remained similar to that of the latest loss to Pittsburgh, there was one notable difference. The usual freshman starter in goal, Giacomo Piccardo—who had started each of the Eagles’ previous five matches—was replaced by sophomore keeper Christian Garner, whose sole appearance last year resulted in a 2-1 loss to Rhode Island.
From the start of the game, the two clubs seemed to be evenly matched, with neither spending too much time in their own defensive zone before regaining possession and racing toward the other side of the field. Despite the comparable matchup, BC played a much more defensive game in the first half due to poor decision-making and turnovers early in the contest. In the 12th minute, Garner was forced to make a diving save on UMass (4-3) sophomore Tyler Mann, who had acquired the ball after an Eagles turnover in the defensive zone.
On the other end of the field, BC had excellent chances left and right but was unable to execute them properly. The Eagles were able to show off their offensive prowess, gaining and maintaining possession and using their speed to beat the Minutemen to the ball. BC’s shots were in vain, though, as Stefan Sigurdarson and Mike Suski hit the post in the 31st and 34th minute, respectively. And, when they were able to get a clear shot, the Eagles were often shut down and swarmed by UMass’ defense, as Suski experienced midway through the first half. The rest of the first half ended scoreless, with the Minutemen topping BC in shots, 9-7.
Despite the slow start to the game, the Eagles were immediately dominant at the start of the second half. Just minutes into the period, a crucial foul was called on the Minutemen. Goalkeeper Marvyn Dorchin—a junior who had started in each of the Minutemen’s games thus far in the season and already had four shutouts under his belt—saved an initial effort from Beto Luna, but then tripped Sigurdarson on the ensuing rebound. The resulting penalty kick was taken by Kellett, the team’s senior captain, who deftly beat the Minutemen keeper.
As the clock began winding down, and UMass remained without a goal, tensions became high and frequent fouls coupled with multiple penalties scattered the playing field, resulting in exponentially more pauses in play. Most notable was Suski’s dynamic play, as he “created his own chances” throughout the game, per Kelly. While Suski was without a single point on the scoresheet, he led the Eagles with six shots and placed two shots on goal, and his fellow freshman, Amos Shapiro-Thompson, was not far behind with four shots, including one on net.
“We’ll take the win—going 5-2 is much more important than 6-0,” Kelly said after, stressing the learning experience the match was. “We have to continue to work, … we have to keep trying to get better. It’s ongoing. Just gotta get better everyday.”
The win was likely closer than many expected, as BC had stormed out of the gates this season, but the trials of the ACC seemed to have set the team back a notch. Still, the Eagles have five wins in seven tries and have swept through the Northeast this fall. There are only two non-conference games left, though, so the Eagles will need to start to find results in conference play, as they will face stiffer competition than an opponent like UMass in the coming weeks.
Featured Image by Kayla Brandt / Heights Staff