Soccer might be the only sport where nothing happens for ninety minutes and somehow, at the final whistle, your heart is stuck in your throat. Nothing happened for long stretches of time in BC’s 0-0 tie with BU on a gloomy Tuesday night Battle of Comm Ave. Yet, at the end of the match plenty of people were jumping out of their seats as the Eagles pressed for a goal.
The game started with a near miss by BU’s Quinn Matulis in the fourth minute, thanks to some defensive shakiness. CJ Williams, attempting to turn, ultimately clipped the forward rushing Terrier who would have had a clear path to goal with only BC keeper Leon Musial to beat. Intentional or not, the referee immediately whistled the foul and showed Williams a yellow card, setting up a Terriers free kick in a dangerous position and with the BC defense still attempting to organize. Matulis ripped a shot that beat Musial, but deflected down and out, off the crossbar, staying just in front of the goal line.
For long periods of the first half, the Eagles appeared to be in survival mode, attempting first to gain possession and then to translate that possession into movement forward. Some success was found with holding the ball in the back, near the midfield, but through balls to leading goal scorer Stefan Sigurdarson found no success, and the wingers couldn’t slip dangerous crosses into the box.
Urgency is the Eagles best friend in these situations, and the triple substitution of Amos Shapiro-Thompson, Augustine Boadi, and Adrian Zenko with 13 minutes to go in the first half created an infusion of speed that noticeably increased the pace of play. Prior to the substitutions, BC had one shot on goal in 30 minutes and no corner kicks. Immediately proceeding the subs, the Eagles recorded two shots as well as two corner kicks, with the speed of the attack taking the Terriers by surprise.
Unfortunately, Camilo Ponce, whose one shot early in the first was the Eagles only shot until the 33rd minute substitutions, was subbed out. The freshman had been a bright spot of an otherwise lackluster first half, dropping into space to receive the ball or pull his defender out of place, attempting to give Sigurdarson more freedom up top. The use of space and movement off the ball is something the Eagles have been struggling with this season, as players adjust to new positions and an evolving formation.
In the second half it was Shapiro-Thompson driving the team forward with six shots, three of which were on target. The combination of Walker Davey and Shapiro-Thompson, with added support from defender Victor Souza, were able to effectively short passes in give and go’s up the line, bypassing BU defenders and quickly driving the ball to the box. Shapiro-Thompson’s speed also led to a near chance, with the captain using his speed to run onto a ball over the top, similar to his goal against Northeastern. This time, however, BU goalkeeper Francisco Montali made the save.
But even urgency couldn’t help the Eagles break through BU’s defense. The game ended in a frustrating 0-0 tie that will leave the team and fans with questions about the Eagle’s ability to finish their chances, as well as questions about possession and identity. BC fans will want to look at the last twenty minutes as a sign of what the team is capable of, but even then, the best moments of the game consisted of individual performances rather than the team pulling together and playing as a unit. There’s no question that the new formation generates possession, but there’s also scant evidence that that possession leads to goals or even high danger chances.
Seven games into the season and the team is still attempting to find consistency—not in the technical ability on the field, because the talent is there, but in mentality. The Eagles show up to play for at least the last twenty minutes of every game, the goal for the rest of the season has to be managing that level of intensity for a full 90 minutes against unranked opponents that don’t immediately bring out the best in BC.
The Eagles (2-2-3) return to conference play on Saturday, September 24th with an away match up against no.7 Duke (5-0-1) at 7pm. BC is still looking for their first ACC win, as well as their first away win of the season.
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