The men’s soccer team has earned a bid to the 2015 NCAA Tournament and will host Vermont tomorrow at 6 p.m. on Newton Campus.
The Eagles are currently 15th in the RPI rankings following a 3-0 loss to second-ranked Clemson in the ACC tournament quarterfinals. They will take on an unranked Vermont team who took home the America East title last weekend. Both teams will be returning to the tournament after failing to qualify in recent years; this will be the Eagles’ first appearance since 2012 and the Catamounts’ first bid since 2007.
UVM is coming off a three game win streak following two big victories in the America East tournament, while BC is coming into Thursday’s matchup having lost four of its last five games, three of those losses againt top-25 teams. However, the Eagles were able to conclude their regular season with a solid 2-1 win against third-ranked Syracuse before falling to Clemson in the ACC tournament.
The Eagles’ schedule this season has prepared them well for the challenge that the tournament will present. While they are 3-4 this year against top-30 teams, they have proven that they can rise to the level of play needed to compete with the best. They showed up and beat strong teams like SMU, BU, Connecticut, Virginia and Syracuse, and gained experience in hard fought losses to NC State, Clemson and first-ranked Wake Forest. The Eagle's have fared well against formidable opponents and shown their composure in high-pressure situations.
Many players individually have proven their value, with three men being named to All-ACC teams: Zeiko Lewis (second team), Len Zeugner (third team) and Simon Enstrom (freshmen team). Lewis is fifth in the ACC in assists and 13th in points, and Enstrom is seventh in goals and 12th in points. All three have demonstrated that they can compete with among the nation's elite, and this tournament berth gives them to opportunity to further prove why they were awarded those accolades.
Compared to last year, there has been a significant improvements for this team. In 2014, BC failed to qualify for both the ACC and NCAA tournaments after going a dismal 5-8-3 overall, and 1-6-1 in the ACC. This year, it has improved to 9-7-1 overall and 4-4-0 in the ACC.
While the Eagles have barely outscored opponents this year—26 to 25—their production has been far superior to that of the competition. The team took sixty fewer shots than opposing teams, 226 to 166, meaning that their shot percentage was nearly five-hundredths higher than competitors, an impressive margin. Though shots come less often for the Eagles, when they do shoot, they are scoring more frequently.
The men had moments of greatness last year, like when they beat first ranked Notre Dame, and they seemed to outdo themselves this year when they beat Syracuse and a reigning national championship team in Virginia.
Despite 60% of the team being first-years, it has been an entirely different season for the Eagles, much for the better. Their improvements can definitely be attributed to the addition of new players. With so many new faces, one would expect for a team to take a while to settle in and find its chemistry, but the Eagles found their stride early in the season and have played a much improved team-centric game as the year has carried through.
Many of the veterans on the team have really stepped up their game as well, and both rookies and seasoned players alike have found ease in the transition this season; most impressively, the younger players have had no problems stepping into leadership roles and making a serious impact during their first season.
Tomorrow's game should not be too great a challenge for the Eagles, who have fared especially well this season given their youth and inexperience. If they show up and play like their season is on the line, they will no doubt rise to the occasion and come out victorious.
The winner of the game will go on to play at 14th-ranked University of South Florida on November 22 at 1 p.m.
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