Recap written in collaboration with Aidan Farwell, Alfonso De Vito, and Drew Serafino of BC Men’s Soccer. Answers have been edited, with permission, for clarity and readability.
The Eagles dropped another away game against a ranked opponent, this time falling 3-1 to No.10 Wake Forest on Saturday night. Although the game was scoreless until the 74th minute, the Demon Deacons' first goal substantially changed the momentum, leading to a quick concession of another two before Stefan Sigurdarson pulled one back.
It is an open secret that Boston College enjoys playing Wake Forest, particularly when it is a home game, as all three players are quick to point out. At the beginning of the match, the question revolved around whether the curse of playing away was greater than the desire to beat Wake, or vice versa. The opening 45 pointed towards the desire to beat Wake being the stronger of the two powers, despite neither team conceding.
The back-and-forth first half saw Wake Forest register nine shots, forcing BC keeper Brennan Klein to make three saves. Those three saves kept the Eagles in the game and helped keep momentum from shifting significantly to the Demon Deacons. Klein ended the night with six saves.
In comparison, the Eagles had two shots in the first half, neither of which were on goal, although they maintained possession. Ball movement improved, with Tyshawn Rose finding channels on the left side to connect with Camilo Ponce. The lack of offense was not surprising, as all three players watching the game insisted that the focus was on defense and closing down space before Wake Forest could exploit it.
The game notes varied between the three players watching along, with Alfonso De Vito succinctly pointing out “we don’t look weak.”
Drew Serafino followed that up by declaring, “Something’s that going well is that we haven’t conceded—we’ve kept ourselves in the game.”
And Aidan Farwell stepped in with some advice for the second half, noting that “Ponce needs to get higher, he’s been creating chances and we need more service—we haven’t really been in the 18 at all.”
At halftime the general consensus was a 1-0 Eagles victory, though no one wanted to go on record saying who they thought would score.
Farwell, De Vito, and Serafino would be right about the one BC goal, but the rest of their prediction would prove false.
In the 74th minute, Wake Forest would break through, scoring off a giveaway ball that caught BC in transition. Recovering the ball in the midfield, Ryan Fessler slid a ball through on the right side to Jahlane Forbes, who carried the ball into the box before crossing it. The cross went far post, where it found Colin Thomas with just enough space to poke the ball home into the upper near post-netting. All three players were quick to point to the turnover as the cause of the goal, noting that BC struggles in transition—both in moving the ball forwards but also defending if possession is lost.
The second goal, coming in the 81st minute, was a “banger.” No other words were used to describe Oscar Sears' top-of-the-box, right-footed volley across his body and into the top far-post corner netting. The Wake Forest midfielder drove into a cluster of five Eagles, pushing them all to his left, before rifling off the shot with his right from just inside the 18-yard box. While tactically there was a discussion about who should have stepped up to the ball, there was no discussion on the fact that the shot was a “banger” of a volley.
Wake’s final goal came in the 85th minute, with Garrison Tubbs slotting a pass through to an open Vlad Walent on the right side. Tubbs had noticed that the right back had drifted inside, allowing Walent an open look on goal with the right pass and found him. Klein came off his line at the same time that Jonathon Murphy tracked back, leading to a slight hesitation that allowed Walent to sneak the ball under Klein’s arm and into the far-post netting to make the score 3-0.
Sigurdarson scored his eighth of the year in the 89th minute; this time, the Eagles were the ones to capitalize on a turnover. Using his left foot, Sigurdarson snuck the ball past Wake Forest keeper Trace Alpin to make the score 3-1 with a minute left to play, preventing the Eagles from being shut out. No one had much to say on either of the last two goals: the mood in the room took a turn with the second Wake Forest goal.
De Vito summarized the game with a rueful shake of his head, “I don’t think anyone played poorly. But we weren’t mentally focused for the whole 90. We found it harder to play disciplined.”
Serafino jumped on that, passionately declaring that the team wasn’t “mentally focused enough.” He expanded to say that it wasn’t just a problem this game but that “we give up after the first goal. We have to have hope. You never give up on anything in life, we just can’t stay focused. One mental error is what shifts [the game] from 0-0 to 1-0. That’s our biggest problem.”
Farwell took care to note that one of the major momentum shifts happened just after the first goal, when BC was pushing for an equalizer. Sam White had a chance at the top of the box, but elected to pass to Augustine Boadi, who couldn’t get a shot off, leading to a dangerous chance not being so dangerous. That moment, Farwell noted, was one where mental focus needed to be 100%, and instead the ball ended up going back the other way.
With the curse of playing away and winning, the question switched to what exactly makes playing away so much harder than playing at home. Losing away in the ACC is hardly a new phenomenon for the Eagles, as the team has struggled for years, but the past two years have been particularly tough, and the away record faces more scrutiny.
No one had a direct answer, but the common threads were a combination of disruption to routine, greater isolation, and then simply mentally finding it harder to play.
Serafino pointed out that when you play home games, you can do your usual routines—whether that is walking a specific route, eating from a particular place, or other BC campus-specific routines—something that cannot happen when traveling due to being in a different space. For people who are superstitious, that messes with you, and even if you are not superstitious, the change in routine can take you out of your mental headspace before a game.
Farwell and De Vito added in the isolation aspect, with traveling requiring hotel stays that often make it you and a roommate. There are space limits too, so not everyone on the team travels, making away games even more different from home games in terms of who is around, who you see, and how team dynamic plays out.
The Eagles (3-6-3) return to Newton Soccer Field on Friday to play North Carolina (6-3-3) at 7:00 PM.
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