NEWTON, Mass. – Derek McCaffrey’s 55th minute goal was all Boston University needed to grab a 1-0 victory over 14th ranked Boston College at BC’s Newton Campus Field on Monday evening.
The Eagles (1-1-0) looked a bit out of sorts offensively with star striker Charlie Rugg still out due to injury and midfielder Kyle Bekker making his return, but still not at 100% after recovering from an injury of his own. The Terriers (1-1-0) took full advantage, outshooting their heavily favored foes 16-11 en route to their surprise upset.
“We knew it was going to be a battle,” said BC head coach Ed Kelly. “We’ve had the upper hand with BU over the last few years, so they’re going to win one of them somehow. We knew it was going to be tough… A lot of injuries, so we’re not all on the same page yet.”
After an opening ten minutes featuring a couple of half chances for each side, Bekker had the first real opportunity in the 11th minute after the Eagles won a dangerous free kick about 25 yards out from goal. The senior midfielder curled a shot towards the upper corner that went just wide of the net.
The two sides would trade chances in the opening half as BU’s Dominique Badji effort required a save from Justin Luthy in the 18th minute and BC’s Diego Medina-Mendez forced Terriers ‘keeper Nick Thomson into a difficult save ten minutes later.
Then it was Eagles freshman Derrick Boateng with a chance in the 33rd minute after being played down the left flank. Boateng ran into the left side of the box with Bekker making a run to the center, but opted to shoot and Thomson was able to make the save.
But the BC offense was a far cry from the free flowing attack seen in the Eagles preseason opening 2-0 win over Syracuse on Aug. 13, the match in which both Bekker and Rugg scored before suffering the injuries that are still affecting both players. The Eagles attack on Monday hardly looked of the same caliber without Rugg – who Kelly said could be back for their Sept. 7 game vs. Maryland –and with Bekker fighting through his injury.
“We didn’t keep the ball very well,” said Kelly. “[Bekker]’s done his best with the injury. We need Charlie [Rugg] back. He’s a big part of the whole thing. We don’t really have another center forward like Charlie.”
Instead it was BU looking dangerous with some direct play. In the 37th minute, McCaffrey managed to rise above the Eagles defenders to get a head to a free kick from Michael Bustamante on the right flank. McCaffrey, however, sent his header wide of the far post.
BU began to looked the more likely to score after halftime and quickly after kickoff of the second half, the Terriors threatened to grab the lead. Lucas McBride got free in the box for a header, but sent his effort just wide of the post.
The Terriers would finally take the lead in the 55th minute through McCaffrey. After a nice run up the left flank, Anthony Ciccone played a perfect cross to the far post, where McCaffrey one-timed it in past Luthy from close range.
The Eagles nearly responded four minutes later when Kevin Mejia played Medina-Mendez into space between the center backs. Medina-Mendez ran towards the box and then cut back to make space before taking a shot. But, Thomson was quick off his line and blocked Medina-Mendez’s effort.
Bekker was subbed out of the game about halfway through the second half due to his injury leaving the Eagles without one of their most dangerous weapons as they sought an equalizer.
“When he gets really tired that’s going to make [the injury] worse,” said Kelly. “It’s hard for him enough as it is.”
BU continued to threaten on the counter attack and McCaffrey and Ali Sozeri forced Luthy into two more saves in the 62nd and 70th minutes, respectively.
The Eagles finally came close to equalizing in the 71st when Medina-Mendez got the ball just inside the box after Thomson was drawn off his line. Medina-Mendez attempted a low shot on frame, but Thomson got just enough on it to keep it out.
Still, the Terriers would hold on for the win and nearly added to their lead in the final minutes, with Cameron Souri sending a good opportunity wide with just four minutes remaining.
Luthy made four saves for the Eagles in the match, while Thomson made five in the shutout for the Terriers.