In college soccer it’s the norm that a team loses some of its offensive fire power with each graduating class. For Boston College, that’s not the case for the 2012 season.
After a 14-6-1 season that saw the Eagles enter the NCAA Tournament as a number one seed, BC returns its key attacking trio of seniors Kyle Bekker and Charlie Rugg and sophomore Diego Medina-Mendez. The three each scored a team leading eight goals apiece in 2011 and combined for 24 of the Eagles 35 goals.
“Diego was a freshman and is a sophomore this year, while me and [Bekker] our in our senior season, so we’re looking to go out with a bang,” said Rugg, a Roslindale, Mass, native. “I think we can expect a lot of goals from our attacking side this year.”
The Eagles tri-taloned attack was on full display in 14th ranked Boston College’s preseason opener, a 2-0 win over Syracuse on Monday. Bekker, who also led the team with seven assists in addition to his eight goals last year, led the charge with a free kick goal and a creative back heel to set up Rugg for the Eagles’ second goal.
“I love playing with [Bekker],” said Rugg, who was second on the squad with five assists last season on top of his eight goals. “I’ve enjoyed playing with him the last three years because he always sees the runs I’m making and he always anticipates. He’s got great vision, so it’s a forwards dream to play with someone like that.”
While Rugg showed his speed and strength on his goal, Medina-Mendez – who scored in a 2-1 loss in a February exhibition with the New England Revolution – also came close with a chance of his own only to see it deflected wide by a defender. The trio certainly didn’t show much rust.
That lack of rust in many cases comes from several BC players’ participation in the USL PDL. Rugg played for the Worcester Hydra – along with BC defenders Chris Ager, Colin Murphy, and Nick Corliss – this summer where he tallied two goals and added two assists in just five games.
“Playing games throughout the summer is vital for coming into preseason flying,” said Rugg. “I’m glad to have that opportunity to play over the summer.”
But the Eagles also got an unwanted reality check in the win over Syracuse when Bekker and Rugg went down with injuries. Bekker’s injury appeared minor, while Rugg’s looked potentially more serious, though he’s hopeful to be back for the season opener. Even if Rugg returns quickly, it was a reminder of how quickly the season outlook could change for BC.
“If Charlie is not up there, we could have a problem for sure,” said head coach Ed Kelly. “We would miss him a lot, but we’ll wish for the best and hope that he’s OK and that it’s not too bad.”
Those injuries left Kelly hesitant to make a prediction on where the Eagles will end up this season knowing an injury to any of his stars could derail their hopes of a deep tournament run.
“I have no idea [how far we can go],” said Kelly. “I really don’t. We’re light in numbers and there are some senior guys that – we don’t really have a backup for Charlie or [Bekker] and that kind of stuff. But that’s true for any team.
“If we lose a couple of special guys we’re in trouble, but we’ll deal with it and move on. Just like any season we’ve got to be lucky and stay away from injuries and try to progress the play before you get those injuries. You’ll always pick up an injury, but it would be nice to get a good start without them.”
Still, with the Eagles’ high powered attack returning and a solid defense backstopped by senior goalkeeper Justin Luthy, who finished 2011 with a 1.22 goals against average, it’s hard to put a limit on just how far a healthy BC team could go.
“I think with this team, the sky’s the limit,” said Rugg. “We were a one seed last year and our team’s ten times better this year I think. I think you can expect great things.”