add_theme_support( 'post-thumbnails' );Eagles Tie No.17 Pitt 0-0 - BANG.
Photo Courtesy of Boston College Men's Soccer / Twitter

Eagles Tie No.17 Pitt 0-0

The Eagles proved there's no place like home in their bounce-back 0-0 draw against no.17 Pitt on Friday night at Newton Soccer Field. Brennan Klein recorded his fourth shutout, leaving the game due to injury in the 81st minute. Leon Musial preserved the shutout, playing for the last ten minutes of the game. The Eagles have yet to concede a goal at Newton this season.

Xavier O'Neil and the Eagles came out swinging in the first, with the freshman nearly scoring 17 seconds into the match. Taking advantage of the confusion at the beginning of a match, O'Neil received a pass on the left side and fired off a shot that missed the far post by inches, getting the crowd going and putting Pitt on notice.

And it would be O'Neil again in the 28th minute to force Pitt keeper Cabral Carter to make his first save of the night. The play started with Alfie Hughes driving centrally before laying off a perfectly weighted leading pass to O'Neil, who was making the run on the left. As has been the freshman's custom, he danced past a Pitt defender, his momentum taking him to the top of the box, where, sensing his space, O'Neil confidently ripped a shot with his right foot that curled towards the back post. Pitt keeper Carter tipped the ball over the crossbar, preserving his own shutout. O'Neil would have both of the two Eagles' shots on the net.

As is true of any 0-0 draw, the defense proved the difference maker. The defensive trio of Diego Ochoa, CJ Williams, and Mortiz Gundelach held the no.17 team in the country to only two shots on net for the entire game. The Eagles opened the match at a frantic pace, pressing early in an attempt to not let Pitt settle into a game flow. While that pace contributed to early fouls, the defense did well to settle in and control the pace of the game from the back. The defense prevented Pitt from having a shot on net until the 72nd minute.

The scariest moment for the Eagles came with ten minutes left. Klein, seeing more action in the second half than the first, had taken some contact on previous plays. After making an initial save, Klein saw himself called back into action as Pitt defender Luka Kozomara managed to sneak through a shot, colliding with Klein afterward. Klein stayed down, having made the save. Kozomara would receive a yellow card for the play, and after a minute, Klein would be subbed out, with Musial replacing him for the last ten minutes.

While the defense has proven its lights-out abilities, the Eagles haven't scored in three games, leaving plenty of questions about the efficiency and creativity of the offense. The good news is Pitt marked Aidan Farwell's first start in his continued comeback from an ACL tear. Augustine Boadi also returned to play, injecting a burst of speed into the lineup. Both players, in addition to O'Neil and Marco dos Santos, have had chances and are just looking for their first goal to hopefully open up the floodgates. 

The Eagles have a habit of starting halves out with a frantic pace, pushing for an early goal that would allow them to comfortably sit in their defensive shell for the rest of the match. That frantic pace doesn't always help the Eagles since teams adapt, as Pitt did, to reconfigure passing structures and simply pass through the center of the field. The second half showed a better balance of frantic energy and consistent defense.

Also worth noting from the match is that four Eagles picked up yellow cards. Williams picked up his second of the season, while Ochoa, Boadi, and Drew Serafino all picked up their first. The Eagles currently have 12 yellow cards across all competitions, tenth in the ACC. The Pitt matchup got away from BC a bit, but there is a notable effort to play a cleaner brand of soccer. Both Williams and Ochoa did well to finish out the game on a yellow, as both defenders are crucial to the Eagle's ability to keep games scoreless.

The Eagles (2-2-2) take a break from ACC play to take on Boston rivals BU (4-2) at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 19th, in soccer's Battle of Comm Ave. The night will also serve as Team Impact Night, highlighting the organization and Dilen Patel, men's soccer's Team Impact player.  

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