Sports, Fall, Men's Soccer

Kellett’s 90th-Minute Equalizer Helps Eagles to Draw With No. 18 Hokies

On Tuesday against Massachusetts, Boston College men’s soccer midfielder Joe Kellett’s penalty kick proved to be the difference, resulting in a 1-0 win. Three days later, though, Kellett—already an undisputed leader despite transferring from Massachusetts Lowell last season—had yet to put his stamp on BC’s game at No. 18 Virginia Tech, and the Eagles trailed, 2-1, with time ticking away. So, when Adam French drew a free kick inches outside the 18-yard box with nine seconds left, there was no doubt who was going to step up to take it.

Kellett saw an imposing wall in front of him and decided to go low.

He struck a ball that hugged the turf and tunnelled its way just to the right of the wall, skimmed off a Virginia Tech defender ever so slightly, and flew into the back of the net, knotting the score at two. As Kellett celebrated with his teammates, the improbable comeback for BC had materialized and after a 20-minute scoreless overtime period, the sides finished with a 2-2 Friday afternoon draw—but it was a deadlock that the Eagles could not help but feel good about.

The game began with a series of possession runs and chances for each side. The first big opportunity came for the Eagles (5-2-1, 0-2-1 Atlantic Coast), when a long ball played by goalkeeper Christian Garner got through the Hokies’ (5-2-1, 0-2-1) back line and found the feet of Stefan Sigurdarson. The freshman forward sprinted toward goal with a defender on his back hip. He fired a low shot on net, but it was right at Virginia Tech goalkeeper Mathijs Swaneveld, who parried it away with his outstretched legs and ended the threat. 

Momentum shifted the other way when the Hokies’ own freshman, Daniel Pereira, got on the ball and took a strike from outside the box. The ball flew over Garner’s head, but banged off the crossbar to keep the score even.

Pereira would prove to be a headache for BC all game long, though. In the 25th minute, a giveaway in the Eagles’ own half put the ball at Pereira’s feet again. The crafty midfielder laid it off to Kristo Strickler but continued his run into the box. Strickler sent the ball back to Periera who was streaking to the far post. The BC defense came up just short of an interception as Periera notched his second goal of the season on a first-time finish.

The first half went from bad to worse for Ed Kelly’s crew in the 41st minute, when defender Alejandro Zimmermann swung his boot high on a long attempted through ball toward Camron Lennon. But instead of the ball, Zimmermann caught Lennon’s nose. He was initially issued a yellow card, but after video review, the color was changed to red. Zimmermann’s day was done, and BC would have to play the rest of the match down a man.

Despite the costly foul, the Eagles managed to come out of the halftime locker room with a renewed energy, attacking the Hokies through short and intermediate passing. Then, a little over 11 minutes into the second period of play, BC equalized.

Lining up for a corner kick—one of five in the match for BC—Amos Shapiro-Thompson whipped in a cross that landed right at the feet of Lasse Lehmann. With his back turned to goal and a defender standing between him and his target, Lehmann rotated, took a swing, and rifled it past the keeper for his first goal of the season.

The Eagles had a golden opportunity to take the lead when Beto Luna found himself unmarked in the six-yard box with a cross heading straight for his head. But, in a potential case of being “too open,” the ball glanced off of Luna’s head and over the crossbar.

BC was getting the ball in space, and the game felt like it was 11-on-11, but the gaps in coverage from playing a man down cost the Eagles in the 68th minute. Chris Little had possession of the ball in the box and found himself without room to fire off a shot. Instead, he laid off a perfect pass to Marc Hoppler who came through the ball on a one-timer and powered the Hokies’ second goal into the back of the net.

Boasting a one-man advantage and firmly holding the momentum, Virginia Tech kept its foot on the pedal. Chance after chance was denied by Garner, though, keeping the Eagles within reach. Garner made a great read on a breakaway chance from Strickler, predicting that he would attempt to beat him near post, and coming out of the net to cut down his angle. Garner’s work to keep the Eagles just one goal behind set the stage for Kellett’s heroic finish, which sent the game into overtime.

After unexpectedly tying the game, and still playing down a man, the Eagles wanted to make sure they escaped Blacksburg with a point without squandering Kellett’s goal. BC kept nearly all its numbers behind the ball, and while the majority of the overtime period was played inside Virginia Tech’s attacking third, the Eagles’ defense held firm against the offense whose 17 goals were good for second in the ACC entering Wednesday.
BC registered its first conference point—after back-to-back losses—and the fact that it was a ranked opponent on the road surely boosts the team’s confidence. The Eagles also found the back of the net twice after failing to crack either North Carolina State or Pittsburgh and can take another offensive step forward against a Merrimack team that has lost three of its last four when the programs meet on Tuesday.

Featured Image by Kayla Brandt / Heights Staff

September 28, 2019