Is there a program in New England that can stop Boston College men’s soccer? At this point, there doesn’t appear to be a team east of New York that can beat Ed Kelly’s Eagles. After rolling through Quinnipiac and Boston University without surrendering a goal and edging out the Rhode Island last week, BC headed to Worcester, Mass., and escaped a hard-fought match with Holy Cross behind an 83rd-minute game-winner from Jesus Sahagun.
Sahagun scored his first career goal on a volley after a feed from freshman forward Stefan Sigurdarson, who scored a similar stunner against URI last Friday, and BC avenged last season’s disappointing draw with a dramatic 3-2 win.
In just a few games this season, the Eagles (4-0) have proven that they are capable of playing and winning multiple styles of games. Lately, the victories have featured a flair for the dramatic, but BC has gotten the job done and is off to its first 4-0 start since 2011.
For the first few minutes, both the Eagles and the Crusaders (0-3) played fairly conservatively, as they felt each other out. After that, both teams just kept racking up fouls and turnovers. They struggled to advance the ball into the attacking third without immediate pressure and contact from opposing defenders. In the 16th minute, though, BC broke through and scored on its only shot on goal in the first half.
Sahugan, the eventual hero, poked the ball away at midfield and found teammate Mike Suski at the top of Holy Cross’s box. The freshman, who has displayed plenty of potential in the first few weeks, cut toward Crusaders keeper Bobby Hurstak and tucked away his first career goal inside the far post. But once the Eagles scored, they could never seem to get things going again before halftime. At the break, both teams headed to locker room bruised and beaten as 14 total fouls were called in the opening half, seven on each team.
The low-scoring pace didn’t last long after halftime. Holy Cross and BC combined for four second-half goals and seven combined shots on goal. Ten minutes in, Crusaders midfielder Max Krause one-timed a feed from teammate Bobby Manella to get the Crusaders on the board and tie it up. Emboldened by Krause’s goal, Holy Cross seemed to find a new burst of energy and picked up the intensity on defense. This surge, however, was accompanied by another series of fouls from Holy Cross defenders, one of which resulted in a Edi Mujan yellow card.
Yet BC managed to weather the storm and answered with a goal of its own in the 60th minute. Amos Shapiro-Johnson, another freshman taking on a starring role this fall, got a pass at the top of the box and took his time before making a turn and burying a shot just underneath the crossbar for his third goal of the season. BC’s goal was swiftly answered by Krause’s second strike of the night, though, as the junior midfielder from Germany scored a 74th-minute equalizer off a set piece from 25 yards out. For a moment, it looked as though the Eagles would have to go into extra time in Worcester—similar to last season’s frustrating draw with the Crusaders.
Then, Sahagun came up big after Lasse Lehmann and Sigurdarson teamed up to get the sophomore the ball in prime scoring position. It was the third straight game that an underclassmen had the game-winning goal, an impressive display of youth for Kelly’s side. With the consistency of Shapiro-Thompson and the explosiveness of Sigurdarson, Sahagun, and Suski, that may very well characterize the rest of the team’s success this season with a roster full of freshmen and sophomores.
Whether that will translate to the ACC remains to be seen, especially with eight teams in the conference ranked in the latest United Soccer Coaches Top 25 Poll—including five in the top 10, an ACC record. That said, BC’s first conference test will be against an unranked opponent, as it faces North Carolina State on the road this Saturday and aims to avenge last year’s first-round ACC Tournament exit.
Featured Image by Kaitlin Meeks / Heights Senior Staff