Eagles Take Down Hokies in Penalty Kicks, Advance to ACC Quarterfinals

Boston College men's soccer

After Virginia Tech scored in the 85th minute to go up 2-1, Zeiko Lewis had a simple message for Simon Enstrom: “We’re gonna get one back. We’re gonna get one back.”

A minute and eight seconds later, Enstrom and Lewis did just that. After receiving the ball out wide, Enstrom took on his defender, muscled him for position on the endline, and cut a ball back into the box. With a little bit of luck, the ball came to Lewis, who passed it into the far corner to tie the game up.

After two scoreless overtime periods, the Eagles (7-7-3, 3-3-2 Atlantic Coast) beat the Hokies (10-4-4, 3-4-1) on penalties, 5-4, for BC’s first ACC tournament win since 2011.

The Eagles could have been up by at least two goals within the first eight minutes of the game. Both teams started out shaky, and BC had a few golden opportunities off of giveaways in its half. In the 6th minute, Lewis took over possession near midfield and passed across to a wide-open Ike Normesinu down the left side. Normesinu barrelled in on goal but couldn’t beat the keeper, who parried it out for a corner. A minute later, Zeiko again picked up a poor giveaway from the Hokies and had a clean look from the top of the box, but his shot went wide.

After that, Virginia Tech slowly accumulated possession over BC, looking to its best player, Marcelo Acuna, up top. Acuna rivaled Lewis for best player on the pitch, showing off a deft ability to chest the ball in hold-up play and led all plays with seven shots in the game.

Virginia Tech looked most threatening in the air, constantly floating the ball into the box and beating BC in many aerial duals.

While BC held the shot advantage nine to five in the first half and had a few more good chances after the opening 10 minutes, Virginia Tech looked the better team. In the 44th minute, the Hokies capitalized on their strength in the air and broke through the BC defense to go up 1-0.

Cedric Saladin made the initial save on a shot from point blank range off of a corner, but the ball popped up to Hokie defender Alessandro Mion, who headed past Saladin to give his team the lead at the break.

BC came out for the second with new personnel, bringing in Enstrom up top to replace Trevor Davock, who moved out wide and pushed Lewis into the middle. The Eagles found new life in the game with this new look.

Davock, who scored a hat trick last game as a center forward, was largely ineffective in the first half. After those numerous chances in the beginning, BC looked to send guys behind the defense, to no avail. Enstrom used his strength to switch things up for the Eagles, as he battled defenders and held the ball up extremely well, providing more options in the attack

“Simon was great in the second half,” head coach Ed Kelly said. “He changed the game for us.”

Enstrom did it all in the half, beating defenders on the dribble and muscling them out of position to find shots with his powerful boot.

In the 56th minute, BC’s revived play paid off. On the counter attack after a VT corner, Normesinu streaked down the field with Lewis open ahead of him on the other side of the field. When Normesinu held the ball for longer, Lewis made a really smart run, cutting in towards goal behind the defenders. Normesinu played a great ball through the defense to the oncoming Lewis, who cut around the goalie and passed the ball into the net for the equalizer.

An even battle continued for the next half hour, with the Hokies continually playing balls into the box from wide areas and the Eagles going through Enstrom up top.

With five minutes remaining, Mion got his second for the Hokies with another headed goal. A cross into the box was headed across goal to the far post and then back to the middle, where Mion emerged from the scramble to get a head to the ball and beat Saladin.

Just as they showed against NC State, BC had the response with Lewis’s second of the game to force overtime.

While Enstrom changed the game, the whole BC squad upped its level of play after a sluggish first half and showed some resiliency.

“We just kinda woke up,” Lewis said

Neither team had many clear chances on goal in two uneventful overtime periods, and the game would be decided by penalties.

BC won the toss and opted to shoot first. The teams were tied at two apiece after two rounds, with Tommy Gudmundsson and Joshua Forbes scoring comfortably and Virginia Tech answering each time.

Davock stepped up for BC’s third attempt, but put up a weak effort on goal that was saved. Saladin came through for Davock in Virginia Tech’s ensuing shot, diving to his left and making a kick save to keep things level.

After Lewis calmly slotted and the visitors kept things tied, Younes Boudadi stepped up and scored with BC’s fifth shot. Needing a goal to extend the PK’s, Hokie midfielder Rory Slevin hit the crossbar for the BC win.

The victory in the ACC tournament against a ranked opponent is an important one for the Eagles after a tough regular season. Ironically, however, a win in penalties doesn’t help the cause for an NCAA bid. Since the game goes in officially as a draw, BC will need to upset No. 1 North Carolina in the next round to remain .500 and eligible for the tournament. While the players celebrated wildly after PK’s, Kelly brought things back to earth, laughing at the thought that this “win” actually hurts the Eagles’ chances in the long run.

“But, another day to play against North Carolina and we just go down and beat them, and get in the NCAA that way,” Kelly said, ending things on an upbeat note.

Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor

About Jack Stedman 0 Articles
Jack is the former Associate Sports Editor for The Heights. His first Facebook post was "basketball!"You can follow him on Twitter at @jackstedman_9.