It was win or go home for Boston College men’s soccer on Tuesday night in Charlottesville, as the team took on No. 16 University of Virginia in the first round of the ACC Tournament.
Underdogs without their captain Len Zeugner on the pitch, absent due to a family emergency in Germany, the Eagles saw their frustrating season simultaneously summed up and capped off by an own-goal from defender Rafael Salama in the 10th minute. The floodgates opened and Virginia’s offense exploded, culminating in a 4–0 shutout loss for BC, spoiling its postseason hopes and securing the Cavaliers (11-3-3) a date with No. 3 Louisville later this week.
From the first whistle it was clear that UVA stepped on the pitch with a mission. Pushing the ball forward with energy, the Cavaliers tested the limits early on of an Eagles’ (6-10-1) defense they knew was missing key pieces. With two shots on goal and an offside call in the first 10 minutes of the game, Virginia was playing at a tempo that BC struggled to match.
The tides turned against the Eagles in the 10th minute when, on a UVA cross into the box, Salama attempted to clear an interior cross and chipped the ball into the upper-left corner for an own goal to open the scoring.
A deflating representation of BC’s vexing season, the early and unlucky deficit took the wind out of the Eagles’ sails.
Reeling on defense, BC seemed unable to slow down the Cavalier forwards. Nearing the 21st minute, Pablo Aguilar would score the first goal by a UVA player off the corner from Sergi Nus. Trailing 2–0, the Eagles could feel their season slipping through their fingers.
Relentlessly crashing the box, Virginia’s offense would continue to feast. Drawing a penalty in the box in the 30th minute, Aguilar faked out BC keeper Antonio Chavez Borrelli to score his second goal of the game, seventh of the season, giving UVA a comfortable 3–0 advantage.
Obviously frustrated, the Eagles earned three yellow cards while putting together only one dangerous offensive sequence in the last 15 minutes of the first half.
The Cavaliers, on the other hand, stayed hungry as the halftime break approached. On a breakaway initiated by Christophe Koffi in the 39th minute, Nathaniel Croft Jr. crossed into the box for Edward Opoku. Masterfully controlling Croft’s hot pass, Opoku threaded a back-heel chip-in from four yards out to give UVA a 4–0 lead.
Despite two big saves by Chavez Borrelli, there was a feeling of hopeless finality as the Eagles entered the locker room for the half.
Confident in its lead, Virginia substituted 10 players into the game throughout the second half. With the bench emptied, UVA dueled BC in the middle of the pitch for control of the ball.
In a physical half with four more yellow cards, the Eagles played hard to minimize the Cavaliers offense but failed to find the back of the net themselves, resulting in a second half stalemate that yielded the 4–0 final.
In their second meeting in ACC tournament history, UVA handed the Eagles a one-way ticket back to Chestnut Hill for this season. Although BC’s season will be largely regarded as a disappointment, the future remains bright for the Eagles. BC is only losing three seniors this offseason: Mohammed Moro, Tomas Gudmundsson and Henry Balf. The good news is the young core of the team—made up of Heidar Aegisson, Lasse Lehmann, Younes Boudadi, Joshua Forbes, Callum Johnson, Simon Enstrom, Chavez Borelli, and more—will continue to mesh, mature and grow together. The Eagles will no doubt begin conditioning, getting stronger and getting healthy, eyes already set, with high hopes, on 2018.
Featured Image by Jake Catania / Heights Staff