At halftime of Friday’s match against the University of New Hampshire, Boston College men’s soccer faced a rare conundrum. The undefeated Eagles hadn’t allowed an opponent to score all season, and yet they were staring at a 1-0 deficit during the break thanks to an own goal by Henry Balf.
“There’s a goal there for us,” head coach Ed Kelly told his players in the second half. “We just got to keep fighting.”
But the equalizer never came. In a game where quality shots were at a premium—both teams recorded a combined seven shots on goal—the Wildcats benefitted from a few lucky bounces and a lot of hustle in a 2-0 win, dealing BC (2-1) its first loss of the year.
The first chance came early for BC, when a wide-open Balf controlled the ball at the top of the box, but sent his shot sailing high over the crossbar. In 23rd minute, Chris Arling broke away from the Eagles’ defense and fired a rocket from close range, but Antonio Chavez Borrelli made a fantastic diving save to his right.
In the 38th minute, UNH finally broke the scoreless drought with a little help from Balf. The center defensive midfielder accidentally deflected a cross off his shoulder and past a diving Chavez Borrelli. It was the first goal of the season allowed by the BC defense, which had previously shut out Quinnipiac and Boston University to begin the year.
“It was inevitable that we were going to concede [a goal],” sophomore Callum Johnson said. “But I think that’s another lesson we need to learn: Once we go down, we need to bounce back.”
Unfortunately for Kelly’s crew, the second half featured more of the same. Johnson lined up for a deep strike from 25 yards out, but he couldn’t keep it low enough. Simon Enstrom had a couple of quality looks from just outside the 18-yard box, but couldn’t find the back of the net. With under four minutes to play, a scramble in front of the net saw a prime opportunity to tie the game, but the shot hit the crossbar.
With two minutes remaining, Wildcat midfielder Linus Fallberg supplied the dagger with a close-range screamer into the left corner. The goal solidified the 2-0 defeat for BC in the first meeting between the two programs in nearly three decades.
The good news for the Eagles is that their defense looked nearly flawless for the third consecutive game. UNH managed just two meaningful chances the entire match aside from the own goal.
That being said, the Eagles played by far their sloppiest game on offense this year. Midfielders and forwards alike struggled to string together passes in the attacking third, and they couldn’t get bailed out by a beautiful deep shot. And while the own goal was a killer, BC put itself in a position where a couple unlucky bounces could prove the difference between a win and a loss.
Featured Image by Kate Mahoney / Heights Staff