For the past two seasons, Boston College men’s soccer has followed up a mediocre regular season with a playoff run. Consistently winning matches in the first three months of the season has proved difficult. And it won’t get any easier in 2017.
On Monday, the team released its schedule for the upcoming season. The 16-game spread features eight teams from last year’s NCAA Tournament—five of which made it to the Elite Eight. Not only will the Eagles have to steal a few wins from the best of the ACC, but they will also have to compete against a proven group of non-conference opponents. Last year, the Eagles posted a 4-6-2 record against their 2017 opponents.
Unlike recent years, the team will play two exhibition matches to start the season. First, BC will travel to Whippany, N.J. to face off against the USL’s New York Red Bulls on Aug. 15. Then, on Aug. 19, the Eagles will return to Newton for a scrimmage against Massachusetts Lowell—a team that dealt head coach Ed Kelly and Co. a 3-2 overtime loss in 2016.
The regular season officially begins on Aug. 25, when BC hosts Quinnipiac. This marks the third year in a row, in which the Eagles will open their season against the Bobcats. The two teams have met every season since 2009. In those seven games, BC is 6-0-1.
A few days later, on Aug. 27, the team will play at Boston University. BC has defeated the Terriers in each of its past four meetings. Just last year, Simon Enstrom capped off the Eagles’ third-straight three-goal victory over their crosstown rivals with a game-winner in the 70th minute.
The club will open September with a three-game homestand. On Sept. 1, the Eagles will take on New Hampshire. BC hasn’t played or scrimmaged the Wildcats since 2001—New Hampshire finished 2016 with a 7-9-3 record and hasn’t had a winning season in a decade. Three days later, BC will play another unfamiliar opponent: Xavier. The Musketeers are the Eagles’ only non-conference opponent outside of the New England area.
On Sept. 8, ACC play begins when Notre Dame comes to town. This will be the first meeting between the Irish and Eagles in three years. The last time out, BC upset then-No. 1 Notre Dame, 1-0.
A week later, the team will fly south for a match against Clemson—a team that reached the Elite Eight in 2016 and has bounced the Eagles from two-consecutive ACC Tournaments. Despite playing Clemson six times in the past four seasons, BC hasn’t netted a goal against the Tigers since 2013.
After the brief, one-game road trip, BC will come back home to host Providence on Sept. 19. The game will serve as a nine-year reunion. Unfortunately for the Eagles, it could be spoiled, as the Friars are hot off of a 15-win campaign and a trip to the Elite Eight.
On Sept. 22, BC will trek to Louisville for its third conference match of the season. It will also mark BC’s third-straight match against a team that made it to the quarterfinals of last year’s NCAA Tournament. The Eagles’ last three games versus the Cardinals have stretched into overtime—two of which have ended in losses.
Kelly’s crew will come back to Newton for two more home games against Rhode Island and Virginia Tech on Sept. 26 and 29, respectively. Following a one-year hiatus, BC will renew its series with the Rams in 2017. Dating back to 2011, the Eagles are 4-0-1 against Rhode Island, and have outscored the Rams 12-3 during that time frame. Virginia Tech will look to avenge last year’s ACC Tournament quarterfinal defeat. Tied at two after both periods of overtime, the quarterfinal match turned to penalty kicks. BC prevailed and advanced to the semifinals. But the Hokies got the last laugh, as they ended up making their way to the Elite Eight in the following weeks.
With the calendar shifting to October, the Eagles will hit the road for a couple games. They will travel to Charlottesville, Va. to play Virginia on Oct. 6. Since 2011, BC holds a 2-1-1 advantage over the Cavaliers. Most recently, the Eagles rode two Enstrom goals to beat UVA in 2015. On Oct. 10, BC will return to Boston to play Harvard. The Eagles will look to down their Ivy League foe for the first time in four years.
Three of BC’s final four games will be played at home. Syracuse will venture to Newton on Oct. 13. The Eagles have yet to avenge their 2015 Elite Eight loss to the Orange. After taking the first three shots in last year’s meeting, BC’s offense was shut out for the remainder of the game, and Syracuse went on to win 2-0. Next, the Eagles will suit up against Connecticut on Oct. 17. Since 2011, BC is a mere 1-3 versus the Huskies. In 2016, the Eagles dropped a heartbreaker to UConn, when Dylan Greenberg scored the game-winning goal with seven seconds left in the first overtime period. BC’s last home game of the season will be played against Wake Forest—the runner ups for the 2016 College Cup. Note, over the past five years, BC has only defeated Wake Forest once, and in that time, has been outscored 11-2.
To wrap up the regular season, the Eagles will travel to Raleigh, N.C. to take on North Carolina State. The last three matches between the two teams have gone to overtime. After leading 3-1 at halftime in last year’s game, BC conceded three second-half goals, and the Wolfpack forced overtime. Thanks to an NC State own goal in the first overtime period, the Eagles escaped with the win.
Without its two leading scorers—Zeiko Lewis and Maximilian Schulze-Geisthovel—BC will need others to step up if its wants any business with the postseason, especially with this kind of schedule.
Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor