Jon Gallagher put No. 6 Notre Dame on his shoulders in the ACC opener, scoring all three goals in a 3-1 victory over Boston College men’s soccer on a cloudy Friday evening in Newton.
Gallagher’s hat-trick gave the Eagles (2-3, 0-1 Atlantic Coast) a hat-trick of their own—three straight losses since opening the season with a pair of 4-0 blowouts. Against the Fighting Irish (4-0, 1-0), as was the case throughout the team’s skid, BC played long stretches of dominant defense and showed promise in the attack, but was ultimately derailed by sloppy mistakes down the stretch.
Notre Dame’s elite defense spoiled BC captain Len Zeugner’s return to the pitch. The redshirt junior defender saw his first minutes since 2015 and looked like his old, aggressive self, making hard tackles and winning every ball in the air that came his way.
But in the 15th minute, the crowd fell silent when Zeugner went down grabbing his ankle in pain. After taking a quick breather on the sidelines, he returned to the field as BC fans breathed a collective sigh of relief.
Both teams struggled to possess and pass the ball early on. It wasn’t until midway through the first half that either side began to sustain possession, and even then, both keepers kept the game scoreless. Gallagher earned his first chance of the game off a set piece outside the box, but Antonio Chavez Borrelli dove to his left to make the stop.
The Fighting Irish were first to break the scoreless bout in the second half. Gallagher lined up for another penalty kick six yards outside the box, and this time he didn’t miss. The senior forward curled his shot around the Eagles’ wall and drilled the side netting in the upper right corner of the net. Chavez Borelli didn’t stand a chance.
In the 74th minute, the BC defense committed a fatal error by leaving Notre Dame’s best player, Gallagher, wide open in the far corner of the box. Sean Dedrick found the unmarked striker for a header finish, pushing the Irish lead to 2-0.
The Eagles got one back in the 81st minute thanks to a heads-up hustle play by Beto Luna. Younes Boudadi started the sequence with a cross to the far post, where Lasse Lehmann was waiting for a header. Instead of shooting it, though, he sent a cross back into the box, finding the noggin of a streaking Luna, who finished the header for his first career goal.
“He just works hit tail off,” Kelly said of the freshman. “Never stops, never stops working.”
But soon after, any hope of an equalizer to force overtime was squashed. Once again, Gallagher found himself in the exact same spot outside the box, and placed a screamer into the identical side netting for his third goal of the night, sealing the 3-1 defeat with a dagger.
Featured Image by Lizzy Barrett / Heights Editor