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Eagles Shutout by Brown in Upset

Although perfect weather for soccer, there was a chill in the air as the Eagles fell to Brown 1-0 on Tuesday night at Newton. Despite playing up a man for 26 minutes, Boston College was unable to score, being shut out for the fourth time this season.

Brown’s game-winning goal came in the 22nd minute off a nifty piece of footwork by Kojo Dadzie. A string of passes on the right side found Dadzie in space one-on-one with converted defender Walker Davey. Driving forward, Dadzie cut the ball back, creating a pocket of space on the edge of the 18-yard box. Using the newly created space, Dadzie rifled off a right-foot shot that rippled the side netting of the far post to make the score 1-0 Brown. 

Down a goal, the Eagles were handed a lifeline in the 64th minute, with Brown midfielder Kyle Gee being handed a straight red card for a challenge against Christian Bejar. Playing with a man advantage helped the Eagles to dominate possession, but BC only managed to generate three shots, none of which were particularly dangerous. At the end of the night, though the Eagles had 13 shots, only 4 were on target. Coincidentally, Brown also had 4 shots on net.

All in all, the best twenty minutes from the Eagles came in the first half at the start of the game, where the Eagles consistently pushed forward. After three initial chances by Brown that Brennan Klein parried away, the Eagles took the game to Brown, testing the defense. Amos Shapiro-Thompson forced a diving reactionary save out of Brown keeper Henrik Weiper with a laser shot on the left side. Minutes later, Ted Cargill and Stefan Sigurdarson each registered a shot.

A possession-heavy defensive line could not find the urgency in the final minutes to generate dangerous looks on goal. Eagles keeper Klein, known for his ability to deliver precise kicks up the field past the midfield line, instead used short passes to a defender to restart play. The short passes allowed the Eagles to build forward, playing into the possession-heavy game plan for the season, but also required more time, with defenders having to move the ball down the field instead of winning it already in the attacking third.  

Questions about how possession translates to goals have been lingering all season. In the best cases, the ball has found Sigurdarson, who has seven goals on the season. The worst-case scenario has resulted in four different shutouts and four one-goal performances. The lack of technical finishing skills was on full display in the loss to Brown. None of the 9 shots in the first half led to a goal.

The Brown goal was a moment of individual creativity and a masterful finish by Dadzie—those kinds of goals can happen occasionally. The lack of offense on the Eagles’ part comes down to two things: looking for the “perfect” goal and players being unable to convert chances. Scoring goals is hard. Everything comes down to hitting the ball with the right pressure, in the right place, at the right time, while facing pressure. Sometimes, a little bit of luck is required. The Eagles need more practice scoring messy, ugly goals instead of waiting for the perfect opportunity to be created.

Gee’s red card should have sent the Eagles flying forward, pushing for two goals and willing to run Brown ragged to get at the goal. Instead, BC continued to play a cautious, collective possession game that saw players turn around instead of pressing forward in one on one battles or pass back to the defense if an avenue forward was not immediately apparent. Although no one likes chaos in their own defensive end, the Eagles show a remarkable resistance to creating chaos in the opposing team’s box as well. 

CJ Williams and the defense had a solid game, surviving the initial wave of pressure and adapting to Brown’s game plan as the game continued. Defender Wil Jacques left the game in the second half, adding to the list of defenders nursing injuries. 

The Eagles (3-5-3) return to ACC play to take on No. 10 Wake Forest (10-3) in an away match up on Saturday night at 7:00 P.M.

 

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