One week after upsetting No. 10 Virginia at home, Boston College men’s soccer received an unsettling taste of its own medicine in a 2-1 double overtime loss to an unranked Louisville team (6-5-3, 1-2-3 ACC) seeking its first conference win of the season.
The first half featured enough self-inflicted wounds to make Plaxico Burress and Cheddar Bob proud. The No. 25 Eagles (8-4-1, 3-3-0 ACC) first shot themselves in the foot in the third minute, when Cardinal defender Danny Reynolds sent a cross into the box intended for teammate Andrew Brody. As Brody and BC defender Joshua Forbes elevated to win the header, the ball appeared to hit off Forbes and leak past the BC goalkeeper for an own goal. The official ruling would later credit Brody with the score, but the defensive miscue nonetheless left the Eagles in a 1-0 hole.
It took over 80 minutes for Zeiko Lewis and the Eagles to resuscitate the offense from its deathbed.
BC was barely clinging to the ropes when a no-call in its own penalty box saved the team from a last-minute Louisville penalty kick and certain defeat. As the Cardinals continued to chirp in protest of the unfavorable officiating, the Eagles mounted a counterattack that forced Louisville to clear the ball out of bounds in its own defensive third.
Most players would have opted for a short throw-in, a quick toss down the sideline to a teammate to maintain possession and restart the charge. Trevor Davock was thinking bigger.
With mere minutes left in the contest, the Eagle forward hoisted a slingshot that sailed all the way into Louisville’s box before being headed to teammate Zeiko Lewis. The Bermudan left-footer didn’t hesitate to seize the opportunity, half-volleying his first touch past the diving Cardinal goalkeeper for an epic equalizer.
Four Louisville shots in the last minute of play couldn’t quite put BC in a bodybag, and the Eagles escaped regulation in a deadlock despite a 17-5 advantage in shots for the Cardinals.
Ultimately, it came down to experience.
Louisville took control during the second overtime in what was their fifth match this season that required extra time. In the 105th minute, Louisville’s Tate Schmitt, a freshman forward who leads the team with six goals and three assists, laid off a gentle pass to midfielder Jack Gayton just outside the box. Two touches and a knuckleball shot later, the BC defense collapsed in disbelief as they watched the Cardinals dogpile the sophomore.
It was Gayton’s first collegiate goal, Louisville’s first ACC victory of the season, and the Eagles’ first loss to an underseeded team in over a month.
The early deficit hurt the young, developing BC squad in more than one way. Risky passes and reckless through balls plagued the Eagles offense as many players appeared to be looking to do too much, eyeing the big play that would erase the Cardinals’ lead.
As a result, BC severely lost the time of possession battle and struggled moving the ball through the midfield. Fortunately, sophomore goalkeeper Cedric Saladin kept the Eagles alive with nine saves, including one incredible sequence where the first-year starter batted away three Louisville shots in ten seconds.
Incredible individual efforts were not enough to salvage an overall sloppy game for BC—a game that could’ve been head coach Ed Kelly’s 300th win had the Eagles exercised more discipline.
The loss stings even more when placed in the context of BC’s remaining schedule. Two of the Eagles’ last three matches come against Clemson and Syracuse, ranked fourth and 16th respectively, in the latest NSCAA Coaches Poll.
Here’s another piece of context: last year, BC finished as an ACC bottom-feeder, a last place team without an identity that mustered only one conference win. If you had told Kelly then that his 2014 squad would transform into a top-25 program sitting behind only Wake Forest and Clemson in their division, a team eyeing a deep postseason run, a group notorious for putting opponents on upset alert … well, he probably would have labeled you an optimist, and that’s putting it kindly.
The Eagles now face a long week ahead of them in which memories of the Cardinals’ game-winning goal will serve as a painful reminder of the consequence of coming out flat-footed. But if Clemson has a whisker of sense, it will not take this tenacious BC lineup lightly.
Featured Image by Drew Hoo / Heights Editor