Boston College men’s soccer will advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament after shutting out Atlantic 10 champions Fordham 1-0 Thursday night. The game-winning goal came from senior Zeiko Lewis. This was his fourth postseason goal in his final season with the Eagles.
Lewis remains the only member of BC’s squad to score in the postseason, notching his latest goal off an assist from sophomore Simon Enstrom with just eight minutes left to play in the first-round game. The Eagles (9-8-3) led in shot opportunities for the entirety of the matchup, finishing 18-7, but they had little to show for it as the teams were locked in a scoreless tie until the 82nd minute.
What finally broke down the Rams was undoubtedly Boston College’s relentless offensive pressure keeping Rams defenders on their heels for most of the game. While Fordham boasts one of the best defenses in the nation, even that force can crumble under drive after drive by attackers as aggressive as Lewis and fellow forwards Trevor Davock and Isaac Normesinu.
Boston College managed to control the ball for the majority of the game, playing in a hard press with their defense past the half and goalkeeper Cedric Saladin out of the box while on offense. Saladin barely saw any action thanks to the vastly offensive nature of the game for the Eagles. Yet, he did snag a pair of crucial saves in the final eight minutes, during which the Rams frantically tried to tie the game to salvage their NCAA tournament dreams. Thursday marks Saladin’s seventh shutout of the 2016 season.
This was the seventh meeting of the two Jesuit programs, and only the second since 1973. Although Fordham was coming off winning its conference championship in penalty kicks, the Atlantic 10 as a whole is much less competitive than the ACC, which pits Boston College against soccer powerhouses like Wake Forest, Clemson, and Syracuse.
The Rams defense does deserve recognition for their impressive showing in the face of constant drives and attacks from the Eagles, but most of the credit is due to second-team all-A10 goalie Rashid Nuhu, whose saves in the second half had BC frustrated. Nuhu led Saladin in saves 10-3; however, this is more indicative of the strengths of BC’s offense given Fordham only took three shots on goal in all 90 minutes of play—and all in the second half.
The Eagles will travel to New York to face the University of Albany this Sunday in the second round of the tournament. Head coach Ed Kelly, in his thirteenth tournament appearance with the Eagles, is hoping to improve upon last year’s Elite Eight elimination with a College Cup debut for the program. This path would put the Eagles on a collision course with No. 3 Clemson for the third time this season.
Follow @BCGavelSports on Twitter for the latest updates on Boston College athletics.