Photo courtesy of Notre Dame Men's Soccer / Twitter

Eagles Fall to Notre Dame 2-1

The Eagles came inches away from tying Notre Dame, but despite a strong second half effort, failed to mount a comeback and fell 2-1 to the Fighting Irish Friday night in South Bend.

With four minutes left in the first, Notre Dame’s Eno Nto scored the game-winning goal off a transition play. Fighting Irish keeper Bryan Dowd took a goal kick that pushed the ball past the half field line, where a Daniel Russo header flicked the ball forward behind the Eagles defensive line. Two Notre Dame players made the run for the ball, but Nto caught up to it first. He stepped in on the defender, and chipped the ball past Leon Musial and into the left side of the net.

As has been a habit this season, the first goal came in the 17th minute. Notre Dame’s Wyatt Borso chased down a loose cross on the left side and spun, creating space from his defender. Borso launched a left-footed shot into the far-post netting, just past a diving Musial. The shot from just outside the 18-yard box made it 1-0 for Notre Dame.

Sophomore Jack Burgess pulled a goal back in the 54th minute, scoring his first collegiate goal. Ted Cargill slipped the ball out to the wing, where Burgess collected it and took a dribble before serving a cross into the box. The cross took a slight deflection before squeaking just inside the far post, leaving Dowd and the rest of Notre Dame stunned. The goal pulled the Eagles within one with over thirty minutes to go, sparking some life as BC turned up the heat sensing a momentum shift.

Once again, Cargill and Amos-Shapiro Thompson led the team in shots with four and three respectively. A combination of stellar goalkeeping by Notre Dame keeper Bryan Dowd and lack of clinical finishing from the Eagles prevented a tying goal, despite BC pushing in the second half. Burgess also registered three shots in his first start since Northeastern.

A spectacular two-save sequence from Dowd prevented BC from tying the game in the 74th minute. Augustine Boadi had the ball at the top of the box, with three Notre Dame defenders closing in. Instead of fighting through the traffic, Boadi slipped the ball through to Shapiro-Thompson, who pushed the ball forward before rifling off a low ground shot that Dowd saved in a sprawl. The rebound bounced to Burgess, just outside the six-yard box. The one-time rocket was saved by a reaction save from Dowd, this time clearing the ball out of danger.

Discipline proved a struggle, with four Eagles receiving yellow cards throughout the game—not an unusual number for BC this season. Several freshmen have been forced to step up, which accounts for some of the fouls, as inexperience with managing emotions in game and the speed of play can contribute to unnecessary fouls. Yellow cards add up, forcing a reconsideration of subbing decisions as well as changing possession and momentum within a game; not to mention that a yellow card is a green light for opposing teams to attack, knowing that a player already on a warning has to be extra careful.

While the second half made up for the first, the Eagles failed to create a shot in 29 minutes of play during the first half. BC preferred a slow and patient build up that fizzled in the final third to putting the ball into the box and creating chaos. Possession is valuable, but as the Burgess goal proves, chaos increases the likelihood of a lucky bounce or a sequence ending in a goal. The game winning goal for Notre Dame was scored not from a lengthy spell of possession, but from a quick transition play that caught the Eagles.

Tinkering with formation and substitutions has played a role in the start and stop nature of the Eagles’ offense. Stefan Sigurdarson, team leader in goals, sat for the last ten minutes of the first half and for the first 31 minutes of the second half. While adjustments for fatigued players, players who earn cards, and tactical substitutions are expected, the Sigurdarson decision serves as another example of a subbing decision that leaves announcers and fans wondering.

After a three-game road trip, the Eagles (2-4-3) finally return to Newton to face NC State (3-4-1) on Friday, October 7th. Still searching for their first ACC win, BC will hope the home field advantage will help defeat the Wolfpack.

 

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