Sports, Fall, Men's Soccer

Eagles Fall in First Round of ACC Tournament

The tension in Lane Stadium could have been cut with a knife during the first round of the ACC Tournament on Wednesday night. Boston College men’s soccer found itself as the No. 9 seed, facing off against Virginia Tech after the teams played to a scoreless draw earlier this season. 

The Eagles (6–7–2, 2–4–2 Atlantic Coast) were in need of a win in order to advance and have a fighting chance of earning an NCAA Tournament bid. But for the Eagles, a stellar defensive performance for 101 minutes was not enough, as it was the Hokies (10–4–3, 3–4–1) who found themselves advancing, taking down the Eagles 1–0.

BC head coach Bob Thompson employed an unusual starting lineup, with leading scorers Michael Suski and Stefan Sigurdarson on the bench. In fact, the Eagles only had one player who had scored a goal this season, Drew Serafino, in their starting lineup. 

With their leading scorers sidelined, finding the net was a struggle for the Eagles all game long, and Virginia Tech led the shots 15–2. In addition, starting goalkeeper Brennan Klein was out for the game with an injury, making former starter Christian Garner—who Klein replaced midway through the season—the one in goal.

Each team came out passively, not looking to break the other’s defense right away. The Eagles were especially patient, staying on their side of midfield and keeping control of the ball and their pace. 

Virginia Tech found one of its best chances to score all game in the fourth minute, when Jacob Labovitz nearly headed the ball in from a massive throw-in from Kyle McDowell, but the ball went just wide.

The interesting lineup combinations continued for the Eagles, as freshman Arsen Melkumyan checked in at the 25-minute mark for only his second game of the season. 

“I think that we did a good job of resting some guys early in the game, so we’re hoping that we’ll have fresh legs as the game progresses,” Thompson said on ACC Network at halftime.

Eight minutes after Sigurdarson was finally subbed in at the 31st minute, Virginia Tech almost found the net once again. If it wasn’t for a phenomenal defensive play by Wil Jacques, the Hokies had a clear path to net. Jacques found himself five yards behind Virginia Tech’s Conor Pugh on a breakaway but managed to use his speed and clear the ball on a textbook slide tackle.  

“I think it felt very tentative from both sides,” Thompson said at halftime on ACC Network. “I think both teams are trying to feel each other … but I think it will speed up and open up a little bit more as [the game] goes on.”

The game certainly started to pick up in the second half, with both teams becoming more aggressive in pursuit of a goal. Suski saw his first action of the game when he checked in at the 61st minute. 

But just nine minutes later, Aidan Farwell, a consistent starter for the Eagles this season, went down with what appeared to be a serious injury. The last 20 minutes of regulation saw Virginia Tech turn its intensity up a level, constantly pressuring BC’s defense and getting shots on goal. 

The Eagles’ first solid look of the game came at the 86th minute, when Suski shot a hard low roller to the left side. Virginia Tech goalkeeper Ben Martino made the save just in the nick of time, laying out to knock the ball out of bounds.

No team was able to score within regulation, a continued theme from the first time the teams met earlier this season. But this time around, someone had to be crowned the winner, and the teams headed to overtime. Virginia Tech maintained the intensity that it displayed in the second half, dominating possession and pressuring the Eagles’ defense. 

Heartbreak struck the Eagles in the 101st minute off another throw-in from McDowell. He put the ball in play, where it bounced off an Eagle defender into the feet of Virginia Tech’s Welnilton Da Silva Jr. 

Da Silva fired a shot which ricocheted off his own teammate but landed to give Jack Dearie the perfect shot on goal. Dearie’s shot, which hit BC defender Victor Souza’s elbow, bounced above the outstretched arms of Garner, who was already on the ground and into the goal, effectively ending the Eagles’ season. 

Featured Image by Maria Ringes / For the Heights

November 4, 2021

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