Soccer Update

The soccer season is winding down for both the men's and the women's teams. While the men have had an up and down season, the women are in position to win the ACC. That means the men are not headed to post-season play, but the women have a chance to go deep into the post-season.

Far from the gridiron of Alumni Stadium, two Boston College varsity teams are approaching the end of successful seasons of defending their home turf on distant Newton campus. Men's soccer, now 9-7 on the year, has managed to upset three nationally ranked programs throughout the year, while the women's team is 14-2-1, with lofty aspirations for this year's postseason.

The men's soccer team has proven their talent and ability to play with the best, but its greatest fault has been consistency. The Eagles have brought down archrival BU, ranked 14th, 11th ranked Duke, and most impressively #2 North Carolina, which had only one loss going into the game against BC. These big wins have been balanced out by disappointing losses to teams such as Siena (8-6-2) and Rhode Island (6-7-1).

The inconsistent nature of the Eagles, however, is by no means caused by lack of talent. Two freshmen, goalkeeper Justin Luthy and midfielder Kyle Bekker, have seen international action with the United States U-18 squad. Luthy has made 64 saves on the year, yielding a .842 saving percentage, while Bekker leads the team with five assists. Another first-year player, Charlie Rugg, has scored the most goals on the season, with six.

The majority of the team, in fact, consists of freshmen and sophomores. Head coach Ed Kelly will lose only five seniors next season, and he says that it is this lack of experienced players that has caused the team's unpredictable play. "We're starting six or seven freshmen, and it is just the lack of experience and maturity. The only way it can be solved is for them to go through the process and learn from it."

The Eagles have one game remaining in the regular season, after knocking off second ranked Wake Forest at home. They will face Virginia Tech on November 6th to finish the season. That game will be played at Newton.

Looking forward to the offseason, the Eagles plan to focus on getting more minutes on the field under its belt to further acclimate the young players to the collegiate level of competition. "This team needs to play quality games in the spring in order to continue their development," Kelly said.

Both the men's team and the women's team are blessed with a low turnover rate this year, with a combined total of only nine players graduating in the spring. Coach Kulik describes the losses of two such seniors, Gina DiMartino and Kelly Henderson, as "huge losses to the program."

"They have had two of the best careers that any BC women soccer player have ever had. They came in as top recruits in the country and they leave as two of the best players in the ACC."

The two have served as this year's co-captains, and have led the seventh-ranked Eagles to their emergence as a top-tier program by dominating almost every opponent they have faced this season. An opposing team did not manage to score on the Eagles until the eighth game of the season, a 4-1 win over Harvard. The Crimson's lone goal marked the end of a 579-minute scoring drought.

On the other side of the field, it has been nothing short of open season for the Eagles' offense. BC has scored 47 goals off of a staggering 339 shots, compared to their opponents' season totals of 8 scores and 114 attempts. Freshman Victoria DiMartino leads the team with 13 goals, followed by her sister Gina, a senior, with seven. Heavily recruited by some of the best programs in the nation, Victoria chose to follow her sister to BC, sliding seamlessly into collegiate competition.

Head coach Alison Kulik trusts both offense and defense to take care of business, and it has proven to be highly effective. "It's somewhat simple; our attack accepts their responsibility to score goals, and our defenders and goalkeepers know it's their role to minimize chances and goals down the other end."

The final game of the regular season carries postseason ramifications. After Friday's 1-0 shutout of Duke (7-7-4), another win will guarantee the Eagles second place in the ACC, a conference home to four of the nation's top ten teams. However, Kulik says, depending on the performance of other ACC teams, such as top-seeded Florida State, with 19 points, the Eagles, now tied for first, could edge out the Seminoles and take the first seed. "This is a great goal for us to have as it will be the highest we have every finished in the ACC," the head coach said.

Only Wake Forest (13-3-2), another conference rival, stands in the way of the Eagles. The Demon Deacons, ranked 11th, stand just two points behind BC in conference tournament seeding, so the outcome has definite postseason implications. The two teams' final match of the regular season on the Eagles' home turf at Newton Soccer Complex on Sunday. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. The next time Kulik's Eagles take the pitch, they will be contending for the ACC title. The tournament begins Wednesday, November 4th.

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