Boston College will return to a full slate of soccer this fall after choosing to forgo their 2020 fall season due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. The restrictions prevented several members of the team from entering the United States. Instead, the team played a six-game spring season which they finished with at 2-3-1.
While that record looks disappointing, BC went toe-totoe with three of the top-ranked teams in the country, despite significantly less practice time. They held No. 1 Clemson to a 2-2 tie until the 80th minute. Similarly, No. 6 Wake Forest and No. 8 Pitt only won by one goal.
This year, the Eagles enjoy ample preseason practice time, exhibition games, and a more forgiving schedule. They play Notre Dame, their first ACC opponent on Sept. 10. The Eagles do not play a ranked opponent till Sept. 17, playing No. 6 Clemson on the road. After a compressed season that left little time for adjustments, the Eagles should benefit from a schedule that spreads out ACC matches and allows for adjustments over time.
The other good news is key players from last season are returning, allowing the Eagles to field an experienced team brimming with confidence. Keeping up with ranked ACC teams is still fresh in the team’s memory.
Captain Ian Buehler returns for his fifth year, taking advantage of COVID eligibility rules. He is joined by defender Wil Jacques and versatile graduate transfer Adama Kaba, who can play as a midfielder or defender.
Juniors Stefan Sigurdarson and Michael Suski proved a lethal combination in the box, scoring five of the Eagles 11 goals. Suski tied for the lead in goals scored with three, while also drawing valuable fouls to give the Eagles set piece opportunities.
BC fields a fast and creative midfield, led by senior Kristopher Konradsson and junior Amos Shapiro-Thompson. Konradsson had three goals last season, adding significantly to BC’s offensive capabilities.
Shapiro-Thompson’s speed makes him difficult for opposing teams to contain while allowing him to recover quickly on defense. He already has a highlight-reel goal during preseason play, scored off a free-kick. His combined speed and precision make Shapiro-Thompson a threat from anywhere on the field.
Everyone says defense wins championships, and BC held opposing teams to 1.17 goals per game last season. Victor Souza was named to this year’s ACC watch list. Last season, Souza emerged as a breakout star on the backline, protecting the goal and helping to drive the offense with six shots on the year.
If opposing teams can break through the Eagles' defense, goalkeeper and captain Christian Garner proves to be a challenge on his own. As a junior, Garner posted a .767 save percentage on his way to three shutouts. Having improved in each of his previous seasons, Garner will likely remain a difficult puzzle for opposing teams to solve.
Head Coach Bob Thompson guided the Eagles to the NCAA tournament in his first year coaching. This year, his Eagles are projected to finish fourth in the ACC, according to a preseason ACC poll.
Last season the Eagles were a dangerous, creative team with plenty of speed in the midfield and a scrappy, rugged backline. They were patient, unafraid to build from the back and wait for an opposing team to make a mistake. Unfortunately, the Eagles lost more games than they won.
This season the Eagles have all of the above and a tangible desire to turn those losses into wins. With more time to practice, build chemistry, and develop a game plan, the Eagles should find more games landing in the Win Column. Regardless, the team plays an exciting brand of soccer and has a knack for making fans believe in the improbable. Last season was the buildup, this season should see the Eagles make it over the hump and start winning close games.
The Eagles begin the season on the road against Quinnipiac Thursday, Aug. 26. The first home game is against Boston University on Monday, Aug. 30, and will be nationally televised on the ACC Network.
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