Photo courtesy of BC Men's Soccer / Twitter

Men's Soccer 22/23 Season Preview

Thin Lizzy’s song “The Boys Are Back in Town” wasn’t written about Boston College men’s soccer, but the lyrics certainly apply. As of August 25th, at 4 pm, the boys will officially be back in town for a 15-game 2022/23 soccer season.

 To briefly recap last season: the Eagles hovered around .500 for the majority of the year, scraping together wins even as injuries piled up. ACC opponents proved tough to beat, but the Eagles managed to secure points through non-conference games and crucial ties. The real storyline was never in wins or losses, but simply who the Eagles could field as seemingly every player on the roster missed time due to injuries. The name of the game was inconsistency in everything from personnel on the field to the ability to finish in the final third or produce dangerous set pieces. The one consistent fact? The Eagles didn’t lose a home game all season, remaining undefeated at Newton.

 With that mixed bag of a season, BC has a lot to prove going forward. The good news is that a quartet of core returners brings experience, stability, and a desire to win, while a group of talented freshmen adds to the team’s overall depth. Let’s take a look at who, specifically, is back in town (and therefore are players to watch).

 The big news? Amos Shapiro-Thompson is back, healthy, and in his senior season having experienced the NCAA tournament only once. In him, the Eagles have a speedy, creative midfielder who wants to make a deep run into the playoffs in his senior year. Shapiro-Thompson brings his technical skills and the desire to win back into the Eagles lineup (as well as a killer shot from distance). He and graduate student Tyshawn Rose are serving as captains this year, bringing a combined seven years of program experience to the role.

 Stefan Sigurdarson will hold down the Eagles' offense this season, coming off of a six-goal campaign last year (and being one of five players to score a goal all season, one of two to score multiple). Look for Sigurdarson to be the target for set pieces near the box, but the forward is capable of scoring during the run of play and can take a penalty kick. In addition to firepower, the forward brings significant soccer smarts, knowing when to dummy a pass or drop deep to feed an onrushing winger.

 Rounding out the returners is Victor Souza, featured on the ACC preseason watch list for the second year in a row. During preseason, as the Eagles played in a new formation, Souza saw time at his traditional center-back role but was also allowed to play creatively on the wing. No matter where Souza plays, he brings a steady presence on the ball and is deceptively agile when slipping past opponents. Playing on the wing also means Souza can provide another option in the box during set pieces.  

 As for the new kids on the block, the team added depth across the entire roster, but Augustine Boadi and Christian Bejar stand out as immediate impact makers. Boadi can play as the single striker up top or as an attacking mid—no matter the position, the freshman brings high energy, a willingness to track down every ball and speed. With more game experience under his belt and a little refinement, Boadi will prove a versatile, speedy threat that can complement the likes of Sigurdarson, Rose and Shapiro-Thompson.

Bejar represents the philosophy of defenders being the first line of attack and he does it well. With a healthy combination of speed, technical skill and audacity, Bejar has the ability to challenge opposing forwards and get crosses into the box or take the shot himself—forcing defenders to commit numbers to prevent him from having his way on the touchline. Although it’s not a guarantee that Souza plays on the wing in the regular season, the preseason combo of Souza and Bejar on the wings increased the creativity of the Eagles' attack without compromising the defense.  


 As for predictions, the ACC preseason poll ranked the Eagles fifth in the Atlantic Division, ahead of NC State and a couple of points behind Syracuse. Playing in the ACC means that in order for BC to make the NCAA tournament, the Eagles’ record has to be around or above .500. Obviously, no team wants to be just average, and in order to guarantee a berth the Eagles’ would have to win more than half their games or win the ACC tournament. A campaign worthy of an NCAA berth would mean the Eagles’ do not lose their non-conference match-ups and win at least two of their ACC matchups. Ideally, the number of ACC wins is much higher than two and for the games that prove unwinnable, the Eagles’ can grind out a tie, as they did four times last year against quality opponents.

 If you play a sport, every year is your year, and every year you have the teammates to pull off a deep run. The most likely scenario here is that the Eagles continue to sit near the middle of the ACC table—winning the games against lower table teams, but losing to no. 1 Clemson and no.12 Duke. (If you want to bet on them winning a top-tier ACC game bet on that being against no.15 Wake Forest). Clemson won the National Championship last year but graduated several key players, including starting goalie George Marks. Notre Dame, another BC opponent, won the ACC tournament last year, though the Eagles tied them 1-1 during their matchup. To put it bluntly: the ACC is stacked with talent that the Eagles are going to have to beat on their way to any postseason hardware (or a postseason at all).

 While individually, BC certainly has the talent to pull off an NCAA berth, a couple of things will have to go right. The Eagles need to clean up their game and avoid the red cards that contributed to significant changes in momentum last season. They will also need to play a cleaner, tighter game that doesn’t allow the opponent to sneak back into a match with a goal off of a set piece. The defense as a whole is now out of runway for adjusting to a new formation and responsibilities—both preseason games saw lapses that resulted in goals, something that cannot happen during the regular season. And of course, perhaps the biggest question for the Eagles is whether the possession-heavy play will translate to goals this season or simply more frustration.

 It sounds relatively simple: keep the ball out of your net and get it into the other team’s net, but variables like health, team chemistry, tactics and mentality complicate the equation. At best, look for an Eagles team with several different goal-scorers, speed on the wings, and goalies found near midfield. At worst, the Eagles should still end up around .500, meaning they can’t be counted out till the very end of the season and the technical skills of several players would make even the losses entertaining.

 Don’t forget to walk, bike or bus over to Newton on August 25th to watch the Eagles kick off their season against Quinnipiac at 4:00 pm!


Be sure to follow @BCGavelSports for all the latest updates on Boston College Athletics. 

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