A 1-1 draw against the University of North Carolina on Friday night at Newton probably was not exactly the result drawn up by the Boston College coaching staff, but Stefan Sigurdarson's goal that tied that game just might have been.
UNC struck first off a set piece in the 12th minute. Amos Shapiro-Thompson, making the overlapping recovery run, brought down a UNC player just outside the box, giving UNC a set piece opportunity about 10 feet from the box. Ernest Bawa took the kick at the whistle, driving a long curving ball into the box. UNC forward Akeim Clark managed to rise above his defender to flick the ball into the far-post netting to give UNC a 1-0 lead.
The Eagles answered in the 26th minute with Sigurdarson’s ninth goal of the season. UNC fouled a BC player on the right side, several yards outside the box in almost a mirror image of the UNC goal, setting up the Eagles for a free kick in a dangerous area. Diego Ochoa took the kick, using his left foot to send the ball in towards the near post, looking for Sigurdarson making his run. Sigurdarson just beat UNC goalkeeper Andrew Cordes to the ball, getting barely the right amount his header to send the ball trickling past the keeper and into the back of the net to tie the game 1-1.
The goal brought the Eagles to life, helping to solidify the chemistry of the Eagles new look with Camilo Ponce playing a more central role, as well as Shapiro-Thompson tucking back into the center to provide distribution at times. The two playmakers were supported by Sam White playing as a holding midfielder, helping to collapse the UNC defense and giving Tyshawn Rose and Augustine Boadi space on the wings. Still preferring to play side to side possession play, the options in the middle relieved some of the pressure and allowed BC to push forward more consistently.
BC keeper Brennan Klein was instrumental in keeping the score tied and keeping the Eagles in the game. Late in the second half, UNC forward Clark had another chance to score, with BC turning the ball over in the midfield and driving towards the box. With the Eagles defense preoccupied with stopping the ball, Clark found himself in space between two defenders and called for the ball. UNC slipped a pass through and it was a one-on-one battle between Clark and BC’s keeper, with Clark having his pick of where to shoot. Luckily, Clark went far post and Klein, having come off his line to decrease the angle, was in the perfect position to block the shot. Klein ended the night with 4 saves.
In the second half, everything was coming up Eagles, even if the team could not quite find the back of the net. Jesus Sahagun had the best chance in the half, receiving the ball at the top of the box and sending a blistering shot to the far post that curled just wide. The Sahagun chance only happened, however, because Shapiro-Thompson raced after a 50-50 ball all the way to the end line and managed to send the ball back to Sahagun—the senior’s effort creating a chance that did not seem possible.
Foul trouble for the Eagles made an appearance, with Ochoa being shown a second yellow in the 89th minute and being forced to leave the match. Ochoa will miss the next game. Ted Cargill, one of the Eagles playmaking holding midfielders, missed the UNC match due to yellow card accumulation. All told, the Eagles received four yellow cards in the match, slowing the game down and giving UNC chances to change the speed of play. The cards also put players on notice, making them targets for UNC and forcing hesitancy in order to not receive a second yellow.
Overall, this game was one of the Eagles' best of the season, with players like Ponce and Boadi demonstrating their ability to play comfortably in the ACC. CJ Williams has repeatedly shown his ability to hold his own on defense and Walker Davey seems to have easily turned himself into a defender. But more than the individual performances, this was a game where the Eagles played like a team completely committed to each other. Overlapping runs on offense and defense kept UNC from having breakaways and being able to use their speed, while the trust in each other allowed creativity from the Eagles and sparked a greater number of chances.
The tie came on Senior Night for the Eagles where five seniors and one graduate student were honored for their contributions to the program. Adrian Zenko was honored as a graduate student, while Shapiro-Thompson, Victor Souza, Sigurdarson, Davey, and Sahagun were honored as seniors graduating this year.
The Eagles (3-6-4) play their final home game of the year against Endicott (10-3-4) Monday at 5:30 pm in a non-conference matchup.
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