New England Soccer Today

BC Bests Syracuse

Charlie Rugg scored the Eagles’ second goal against Syracuse, but left the match with a knee injury. (Photo: Boston College Athletics)

NEWTON, Mass. – The Eagles three-taloned attack of seniors Kyle Bekker and Charlie Rugg and sophomore Diego Medina-Mendez, looked in peak form already as they sliced through Syracuse’s defense on their way to a 2-0 preseason exhibition win over the Orange at the Boston College Soccer Complex on late Monday morning.

The trio looked in top form, that is, until injuries knocked both Bekker and Rugg out of the game.

It was shaping up to be a near perfect day for the 14th ranked Eagles. The weather was pristine, the goals were top class, the defense looked sturdy and new freshmen impressed. Unfortunately what initially looks like a minor injury to Bekker and potentially a more serious injury to Rugg – the Eagles joint top scorers, along with Medina-Mendez, with eight goals last season – could prove much more costly than any benefit the Eagles received from their preseason opener if either is sidelined for any length of time.

“The first half was really good,” said Eages head coach Ed Kelly. “[Second half] we rested a few guys and took [Bekker] out – he had a little bit of an injury. Now we have to worry about Charlie with that injury. Hopefully he’s OK and it’s not too bad and he’s only out for a few weeks.”

But, before the injuries, it was Bekker and Rugg leading the attack. Bekker opened the scoring on a free kick 11 minutes in and then set up Rugg beautifully for the Eagles’ second to give Boston College the 2-0 lead at the half.

And there were other positives as well. Freshman midfielder Derrick Boateng of Worcester, Mass, appeared confident on the ball and was looking to get touches wherever possible. The defense also held up well.

“Derrick’s been in classes so he’s only had like two practices,” said Kelly. “He did well for that. We were pretty solid in the back. Everybody got to play, so all-in-all – a couple of injuries, just like I’m sure [Syracuse] does – so we’re small numbers, so all-in-all it was pretty good. First half was very good.”

After both teams seemingly spent to first ten minutes looking to find a rhythm – as is often the case in a preseason opener – Bekker sparked the game to life in the 11th minute after BC earned a free kick just outside the box on the left flank. The senior midfielder and Canada U-23 International curled a low shot through the box that just snuck in at the far post, out of the reach of a diving Andrew Coughlin.

“[Bekker]’s a special player,” said Kelly. “He’s one of the better kids in the country. He has the ability to do that kind of stuff and get them on target. He makes everything flow.”

That goal would start a back-and-forth ten minutes in which each side nearly found the back of the net. First, Syracuse came close in the 13th minute after a cross from the right flank found its way through the box to Nick Rhynhart. The freshman forward volleyed a shot on frame, but BC goalkeeper Justin Luthy was quick off his line to narrow the angle and block the shot.

Then it was the Eagles threatening in the 15th minute, when Rugg broke behind the defense, only to be met by an onrushing Coughlin, who grabbed the ball off his foot at the last second.

Another two minutes later it was Syracuse again. This time Mawuena Agbossoumonde sent a dangerous free kick over the Eagles’ wall that just missed the upper corner.

Medina-Mendez had his turn next in the 21st minute, after he was played into the left side of the box. The sophomore hit a shot towards goal, but his effort deflected off a defender and hit the side netting for a corner kick.

After the game had settled down a bit, the Eagles doubled their lead through some fantastic play down the right flank in the 34th minute. Bekker received the ball and immediately back heeled it into space in the box where Rugg outpaced and outmuscled his defender and raced onto the ball before slotting it past Coughlin into the far corner to make it 2-0.

“I saw [Bekker] was going to get the ball facing away from the goal,” said Rugg. “I knew he was going to see me because he always does, so I made my run through. Like I thought, he played it right through, perfect ball.”

BC came out the aggressor again in the second half – even after losing Bekker to injury before the break – and just under two minutes in, midfielder Stefan Carter fired just high from 20 yards.

But, Syracuse also appeared to have more energy after making wholesale changes at halftime and would have the majority of chances the rest of the half, especially after Rugg’s early end to the match due to injury and Medina-Mendez making way to get the rest of the squad more minutes.

“I think I buckled my knee a little bit and jammed it,” said Rugg, a Roslindale native who played for the Worcester Hydra this summer. “Hopefully it’ll be better in a couple weeks, a week or so.”

Still, Syracuse were unable to find their finishing touch. Stephen Krachie fired just wide of the net in the 51st minute after a decent build-up and Rhynhart rose up to head a corner on frame in the 57th, only for substitute goalkeeper Keady Segel to punch his effort clear.

The Orange then should’ve pulled one back in the 65th minute after Tony Asante caught the BC backline flat-footed on a long ball over the top. Asante broke in on goal, but his touch around Segel sent him too close to the end line and ruined his great chance.

Syracuse’s final chance of the match to grab a consolation goal came in the 89th minute, when two Orange forwards converged on BC ‘keeper John Bunkall – the third Eagle to man the net in the match – and picked the ball off the feet of the junior.  Bunkall managed to do just enough after losing the ball to throw off the Syracuse attackers, who spilled the ball over the end line for a BC goal kick, preserving the Eagles 2-0 victory.

BC travels to New York to face Saint John’s in their final exhibition match on Saturday before kicking off the season at Quinnipiac on Friday, August 24.

“We’re waiting on a couple of kids to get cleared,” said Kelly. “It’s an early preseason game, so we’re not fit fit, as in game fitness, so it’s all good. We’ll just keep it going.”

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