“Have you ever seen someone work that hard?” Boston College head coach Ed Kelly asked during the postgame interview.
He was referring to Simon Enstrom.
“Oh my god,” Kelly added. “And then he smashes one as well.”
Enstrom had just scored the lone goal for BC in a 1-0 win over Duke in the Eagles’ ACC opener.
The highest praise Kelly could give, though, was comparing Enstrom to Alejandro Bedoya, former BC standout and current USMNT member. On a team with a signature work ethic in world football, Bedoya is one of the hardest workers and has kept himself in Jurgen Klinsmann’s good graces for that very reason. Now, Enstrom is creeping into that special category of player who can be the hardest worker on the field and reap the benefits with goals.
BC (4-1-0, 1-0-0 Atlantic Coast) has switched things up in recent weeks, opting to put long-time central midfielder Zeiko Lewis out wide while Enstrom moved into Zeiko’s former role behind the striker. Central midfield is a grueling position—Kelly calls it “dog’s work in there”—that can often go unheralded. But Enstrom is happy to contribute however he can, no matter how much added work he has to put in.
“Now I appreciate how much work our midfielders actually do for us,” Enstrom said.
The decision to move Enstrom, the star striker from last year, into a new position was made much easier with the arrival of Maximillian Schulze-Geisthovel, who warranted a starting job after scoring four goals in four games.
Through the start of the season, Enstrom and Schulze-Geisthovel had been splitting time up top, but the timeshare didn’t allow either player, especially Enstrom, to find much rhythm or consistency. Kelly had been flirting with the idea of playing the two together, but decided the two wouldn’t work as partners up top.
The new combinations of players looks to be a smart move by Kelly after the team performance against Duke (2-1-1, 0-1-0). Schulze-Geisthovel was a one-man wrecking machine, often going up against three Blue Devil defenders and still holding the ball up well. Out wide, Lewis can still work his magic. As the game went on, Lewis got himself onto the ball more and more, weaving through defenders and cutting in towards goal, looking to curl one past the keeper.
The hard work was needed from the first whistle, as both teams came out flying and the game could very nearly have been 2-2 in the first 10 minutes. Cedric Saladin made a tremendous save to deflect the ball off the crossbar from point blank range in the fourth minute. Two minutes later on the other end, Schulze-Geisthovel missed an easy, near-post header.
After leading in shots eight to four in the first half, BC’s breakthrough came in the 51st minute. Enstrom received the ball around the midfield with open space in front of him. Barrelling down on goal, he unleashed a powerful shot that found the side netting thanks to a deflection off the defender. It’s these lucky bounces that come when you put that work in.
Behind Enstrom, a strong trio of midfielders showed up against Duke. Lasse Lehmann returned to the starting lineup after suffering an ankle injury, Henry Balf made the most of the shared playing time as Lehmann’s sub, and Rafa Salama was the vocal leader as the defensive midfielder, sharing in the unheralded work with Enstrom and others.
The team got more solid as they moved toward its own goal. Most telling is that a now-fit Len Zeugner—who Kelly emphasized is his best player—was ready to play for the first time this season. The backline, consisting of Mo Moro, Josh Forbes, Tommy Gudmundsson, and Younes Boudadi, was too good to break up, however, and Zeugner didn’t make his debut.
Between the sticks, Saladin once again has come up big for the Eagles. With two minutes left, Duke forward Cameron Moseley was clear on goal, but his curling effort from the top of the box was met by the outstretched arms of a diving Saladin to preserve the precious lead.
BC’s strong defensive shape and work ethic was put to the test as Duke relied on route one soccer to try and equalize in the final minutes. The big save by Saladin led to back to back corners that included the Duke goalie in the mix.
Duke had one last solid chance with 12 seconds left. Forbes, instead letting the clock run out, made a rash challenge in the corner for a dangerous free-kick. The ball pinged off one Blue Devil in a sea of bodies for a goal-kick and the BC victory.
A well-earned victory kickstarted the Eagles’ 2016 ACC campaign, and having bounced back from the Villanova loss, the team is trending upwards as the going gets tougher.
“You need to play an ACC team to get your level up,” Kelly said. “It brings it out in us.”
Featured Image by Amal Agrawal / Heights Staff