Panic Mode: Demon Deacons Out-Flank Eagles

Zeiko Lewis just kept running.

He had one defender beat and then another with the ball glued to his left foot. The sophomore had a force field between him and the Demon Deacons’ defenders as they backed away from him, begging him to have a 1-on-1 opportunity with their keeper.

Lewis looked up to see where the keeper was and used the inside of his foot to place it into the back of the net.
The only problem was that his effort went wide of the post, and BC was trailing 4-1.

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His miss was another step in the Eagles’ progression toward ACC mediocrity, which must be corrected immediately.
Boston College’s men’s soccer team has won only one of its last eight matches, and it put itself in crisis mode four games before the postseason it might not have.

As soon as Philip Parker cut into the box and drove a cross that bounced off the hip of Atobra Ampadu and past Alex Kapp, the Eagles were set to be in for a long night, as the deadliest part of Wake Forest’s game had already bit BC a mere six minutes after the opening whistle.

The team should have become more aware of the danger of the centered ball and taken extra precautions to cut out play from wide areas, but the Eagles failed to cope and suffered a 4-1 defeat. All four goals came as the result of crosses, which caught BC’s back four off guard.

Entering the match, the strongest part of the team was its rearguard. Head coach Ed Kelly’s back four, which consists of three new members, includes freshman Mohammed Moro at left back, and Atobra Ampadu next to freshman Len Zeugner at center back. Matt Wendelken is the lone returner from last season, but his campaign did not start until the team’s win over Notre Dame due to injury.

Even with the new back four, though, everything was going well until it fell apart. Individual errors have led to multiple losses this season, but on Friday night, a plague of mistakes hit the defense.

Parker was able to get behind Wendelken and Zeugner on the wing and through the channel between the pair not only in the sixth minute, but also twice between then and the 23rd minute when he delivered a dangerous ball to Michael Gamble, who should have made it 2-0.

As Wake Forest’s attack ran rampant, the Eagles were stagnant, and the forwards were rotated to change things up. Phil Sandgren and Cole DeNormandie entered the game to give the Eagles more bulk up front.

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Lewis and Isaac Normesinu bring speed and skill to the lineup, but Sandgren and DeNormandie have the strength and athleticism necessary to mix up a match.

Kelly’s swap worked on 32 minutes when Alex Kapp’s free kick forward found the head of Sandgren, who flicked the ball forward to DeNormandie. The senior took the space the Demon Deacons conceded in midfield, got the ball onto his favored right foot, and unleashed a laser into the back of the net.

The Eagles’ ship was righted, but two minutes later, Jon Bakero rocked the boat and kicked it off course. Instead of exploiting the right side, a through ball to Kris Reaves put the left side of the defense at sixes and sevens.

Zeugner failed to clear Reaves’ ball across the face of goal, and Bakero opened up his body, reached back with his right foot, and corralled the ball from behind him to beat Kapp. The rout was on.

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Kapp was called on multiple times before the clock struck 45 minutes. He batted an errant cross over the bar and diminished the danger of a few balls that were floated into the area.

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The junior was wrong-footed in the 43rd minute when Rick Greensfelder’s ball was centered to Bakero. Moro failed to get goal side of the forward, and all Bakero had to do was tap it in.

For the Eagles to get back into the game, the attack would have had to click, but it did not. Lewis continued to get forward, but was limited to headers in the area, which is not the attacker’s strength. BC could not get forward with the ball on the ground and if it did, Wake would counter with ferocity.

The Demon Deacons broke forward in the 57th minute to ice the game. Michael Gamble twisted Len Zeugner up on the left flank to free up five yards of separation at the elbow of the box.Greensfelder bashed Gamble’s in-swinging ball to the far post past Kapp, even though the junior keeper made the initial save.

Shot after shot followed from the hosts, who should have tallied two more before the final whistles. Had the Eagles finished earlier opportunities and been more physical defensively, the scoreline may not have been as bad, but it was the second time that the Eagles were not only frustrated by opposition, but also played off the park.

Failing to get goal side of attackers is one of defending’s cardinal sins and a mistake that should never have taken place four times in the same match, as each cross should have been dealt with easily.

To avoid being one of the two teams that miss the cut for the ACC Tournament, the mistakes will have to end, and the finishing will have to improve.

Featured Image by Emily Fahey / Heights Editor

About Alex Fairchild 83 Articles
Alex Fairchild was the Online Manager of The Heights in 2015 and Assistant Sports Editor in 2014. He optioned his Football Manager life for a real job with the Boston College men's soccer team, which takes him away from his family and friends even more. You can follow him on Twitter @alexsfairchild.