While Boston College men’s soccer entered the ACC Tournament as the underdog, ranked seven spots below its opponent No. 8 Duke in the conference standings, the Eagles did not go down without a fight.
Late in the contest, defenseman Christian Bejar roped a shot on goal off a dime by BC goalkeeper Brennan Klein after Duke’s Amir Daley misplayed the ball. While Bejar’s shot deflected off Duke goalkeeper Julian Eyestone, the ball bounced outside of the box to BC forward Daniel Klaric, who rocketed the ball into the back of the net in the 79th minute.
Klaric’s missile, which put BC on the board for the first time all game, energized the Eagles. And just 1:10 later, Bejar powerfully drove the ball into the bottom-right corner of the goal. Eyestone’s left hand did not come close to stopping the shot.
The Eagles (3–9–5, 0–5–3 Atlantic Coast) put up a valiant effort in the final 12 minutes of the match, but it was too little too late, and BC fell 3–2 to the Blue Devils (11–3–2, 4–3–1). The loss knocked BC out of postseason play.
Even with a third-minute goal from Duke defenseman Antino Lopez, who beamed a header over Klein’s head off a precisely placed corner kick by Nick Pariano, BC recorded eight shots in the first half—just as many as Duke—and only one less shot on goal. The Eagles notched three corners to the Blue Devils’ five, but had two less fouls. They controlled possession and dispelled Duke’s attacks. BC could not convert its abundant chances, however, and Eyestone rejected shots on goal from four different BC players.
After the first half came to a close, a yellow card on BC midfielder Xavier O’Neil for arguing with the referees foreshadowed BC’s future struggles.
The Eagles came out flat in the second half, giving up possession and appearing exhausted. The Blue Devils’ substitutions provided energy for Duke, which controlled the second half as it has all season long—the Blue Devils came into the affair outscoring opponents 32–6 in the second half of games.
Substitute Drew Kerr proved to be the straw that finally broke the camel’s back for BC. The Duke midfielder dribbled with ingenuity and fluidity past a series of drained BC defenders, setting up both forward Ulfur Bjornsson and Ruben Mesalles for two goals in back-to-back minutes. After Bjornsson scored in the 61st minute, Mesalles was right behind him, floating one into the net just 1:30 after.
With a three-goal advantage and 15 minutes left, Duke subbed off its most important players, taking out Pariano, Mesalles, and Wayne Frederick to close out the match. Kerr’s two assists put the Blue Devils up 3–0, and seemingly shot them into the next round of the tournament.
But, suddenly, Klaric and Bejar tallied a goal each, and the last 10 minutes of the game was more intense than it looked like it would be.
While the Blue Devils held on to win the match, BC made them sweat. The Eagles recorded four free kicks, one corner, and one shot in the final 10 minutes, looking regrouped and applying the pressure they showcased in the first half. But the comeback effort came too late, and BC failed to tie things up ahead of the final whistle, ending its season.