Plagued by inconsistent play recently, the Boston College men’s soccer team finally got its bearing back in an assertive 3-1 win over Boston University. The win served to correct the team’s poor run of form, which has hindered its ACC postseason chances.
Although the victory came in non-conference play, it should give the Eagles a boost as they head into to the end of their ACC schedule.
The first 15 minutes of the game were a stalemate. Both sides played conservatively, focusing on keeping possession and building a structured attack. In the 19th minute, BU began to put heavy pressure on the Eagles’ defense with a dangerous header by Dominique Badji, but goalie Alex Kapp made a diving save, forcing a corner kick.
Five minutes later, BC gave up a penalty kick and Badji put BU up 1-0. The rest of the first half, the BC defense successfully fended off counterattacks and dominated possession. Yet, as the first period winded down, BC was still unable to seriously threaten BU goalie Nick Thomson.
The Eagles maintained possession of the ball, but struggled to generate shots on goal consistently. On the other end, Badji continued to spark counterattacks and put pressure on the BC defense. Even when Badji went down with an injury in the 31st minute, the Terriers’ offense created several chances, displaying well-timed runs and excellent movement off the ball.
With three minutes remaining in the half, the Eagles finally evened up the score. After the BU defense failed to clear a corner kick, Zeiko Lewis won the ball at the top corner of the box.
He immediately got behind the defensive line by driving baseline and zipping the ball across the box with his right foot. Cole DeNormandie redirected the cross into the back of the net to even the score at 1-1 going into the intermission.
DeNormandie and the Eagles carried the momentum into the second half, immediately setting a physical tone. Seven minutes into the second frame, DeNormandie returned the favor to Lewis by playing an excellent through ball to set Lewis up with a 1-on-1. He kept composure and dribbled past the keeper, easily passing the ball with his left foot into an open net.
The Terriers were suddenly trailing by one, and they turned up the intensity accordingly. BU played with a newfound sense of urgency, matching the Eagles’ physicality and effectively probing the defense during counterattacks. Nevertheless, their intensity slowly turned to frustration, evident in a hard foul and booking with 30 minutes remaining.
As BC defender Ado Kawuba worked to clear the ball by the sideline, he received a strong push in the back by BU forward Felix De Bona. Kawuba went soaring out of bounds and took a violent fall, prompting the official to give De Bona a yellow card.
BC dominated the rest of the way, controlling possession and dictating the tempo of the game. Lewis continued to stay in rhythm, working well up top with substitute forward Diego Medina-Mendez. Head coach Ed Kelly praised Medina-Mendez for his effort after the game, calling him a workhorse.
The final goal of the game was definitely the most beautiful. Defender Matt Wendelken sent a perfect long ball across the field to a wide-open Lewis behind the defense. Lewis again showed his distributing skills, making a quick pass backwards to Nick Butler at the top of the box. Butler drove the ball into the back of the net to create an ultimately insurmountable 3-1 lead.
The whole second half, BC appeared noticeably more physical and decisive. Stagnant off-the-ball movement made the forwards easy to guard in the first half, but improved spacing and better runs opened up the BU defense for the remaining 45 minutes.
On defense, the Eagles had better shape and took more efficient angles when containing counterattacks. Offensively, Lewis controlled the tempo and continued to get behind the defense even in the last moments of the game. He was the most dominant player in the contest, assisting on or scoring all three BC goals.
Featured Image by Mike Trummel / For The Heights