Nov. 18, 2000
The Game -
Sunday's game marks the first appearance in the NCAA tournament for the 22nd-ranked Eagles since 1990. The Eagles earned their invitation to the College Cup by winning the BIG EAST tournament. As the third seed, they topped fifth-seeded Seton Hall, 2-1, to take home their second BIG EAST title in school history. BC earned the title with wins over sixth-seeded Georgetown (2-1 in overtime) in the quarterfinals, seveth-seeded Rutgers (1-0) in the semifinals and Seton Hall.
Rhode Island secured its place in the tournament bracket with its 4-3, overtime victory over Georgia Southern in the NCAA Play-In game. The 17th-ranked Rams won their second-srtaight Atlantic 10 Championship by virtue of their wins over Massachusetts (2-1) and Dayton (5-1). Rhode Island is making its second-straight appearance in the NCAA tournament and their eighth overall.
The Series -
Boston College and Rhode Island have met 27 times with the Rams holding the advantage in the series, 17-9-1. The last time the two teams met, in 1993, the Eagles topped URI 5-0 in Kingston. It was the second-straight win for BC after taking the 1992 contest, 3-1. Before those BC wins, Rhode Island had taken seven of the previous nine meeting with one tie. The Rams also took 10 of the first 11 contests to start the series.
The Last Meeting -
On Sept. 4, 1993, Boston College traveled to Kingston for the first contest of the season for both teams. BC took the game with a 5-0 win. Junior Brian Siracusa scored two goals a minute apart in the second half after assisting on the third goal of the game four minutes before his two goals. Freshman Keith O'Halloran netted two scores, while Eagle star Paul Keegan had two assists in the contest. Eagle keeper Marc Bala made one save for the shared shutout with Chris Bauer.
The Eagles' Coaches -
Ed Kelly is at the helm of the Boston College soccer team for his 12th season and after leading the Eagles to a 7-3-1 BIG EAST mark in 2000, was named BIG EAST Coach of the Year. He has amassed a 108-102-24 record at the Heights. In 16 seasons overall as a head coach, Kelly has a 148-115-21 career record.
This season, he has taken a team predicted ninth in the Preseason BIG EAST Coaches' Poll and led it to a third-place league finish, home field advantage in the playoffs, its second BIG EAST tournament championship and a 12-6-1 overall record. He has also brought the team to its third NCAA tournament appearance in school history.
Inheriting a program hovering around .500, Kelly guided the 1990 team to 14 wins, the BIG EAST title and an NCAA berth. In 1995, he led a young, upstart Eagle program picked eighth in the BIG EAST in the preseason coaches' poll to an 8-1-1 record and the regular season championship.
Before coming to Boston College, Kelly was the head coach at Seton Hall from 1985 to 1988. He turned a 1-10 program into two-time BIG EAST champions and brought it to the NCAA tournament twice. He has been named BIG EAST Coach of the Year three times - in 1989,1990 and 2000, all while at Boston College. Overall in his career, he has won the BIG EAST title four times and has taken five teams to the NCAA tournament.
Assisting Kelly is Zach Samol, who is in his first year as the Eagles' assistant. An All-Ivy selection at Dartmouth in the backfield from 1994-97, Samol joined Kelly in July to coach the team. He is a 2000 graduate of Dartmouth after taking two years to play professional soccer with the Cape Cod Crusaders and Connecticut Wolves.
A defensive specialist, he has helped mold the backfield - complete with three new starters - into the seventh-best defensive unit in the nation, allowing only .70 goals a game in the regular season. Last season in 1999, the Eagles gave up 1.35 goals per game.
Last Time Out -
On the 10th anniversary of the last Boston College BIG EAST Championship in men's soccer, the third-seeded Eagles defeated No. 5 Seton Hall at Rutgers' Yurcak Field to win their second league tournament title. With the victory, Boston College received the BIG EAST's automatic bid to the NCAA Championships.
Sophomore Bobby Thompson, the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, secured the win with his fifth tally in the 66th minute. Collecting a pass from Chris Cleary down the left wing, he brought the ball into the Eagles' offensive end of the field untouched and picked up a defender just outside the goal box. He faked out the defender and had a clear shot at the goal, tucking in a shot just past Pirate keeper Alex McDonald inside the right post.
Senior Brian Mollo, starting in place of the injured BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year Casey Schmidt, opened the scoring in the 16th minute when he collected a pass from Thompson in the center of the box and lifted a shot into the upper left corner of the goal over McDonald's right shoulder. It was his first score on the season. Senior Sjur Gundersen also assisted on the goal with the throw in to Thompson.
After applying heavy pressure throughout the closing part of the first half and through most of the second half, the Pirates finally broke through the Eagle defense when Luke Serefin netted a goal to bring the Pirates within one goal in the 89th minute. Seconds later, the Pirates thought they had scored the equalizer with just seconds left on the clock, but the play was whistled offsides as the ball was headed into the net.
Senior Chris Hamblin, the BIG EAST Goalkeeper of the Year, made six saves for his 11th win of the season, while the Eagles moved to 12-6-1 overall. McDonald made one save in the loss.
Deja Vu -
Boston College's win over Seton Hall in the 2000 BIG EAST Championship game marked the 10th anniversay that the two teams met for the league title. On Nov. 4, 1990, the Eagles topped the Pirates by the same 2-1 score for the school's first BIG EAST crown in men's soccer. That game went into double overtime and was decided on Justin Ceccarelli's goal in the first extra session. The second-seeded Eagles, under the direction of Ed Kelly, upended top-seeded Seton Hall who had won the previous three BIG EAST titles, twice while Kelly was still the Pirate's mentor.
NCAA Tournament History -
Boston College has had its name called three times in the past on selection day for the NCAA men's soccer tournament and are still looking for their first win in the NCAA tournament.
In 1982, after falling in four overtimes to Syracuse in the inaugural BIG EAST tournament finals, the Eagles headed into the NCAA Championships to face conference rival Connecticut. In its third multiple-overtime game in a row, Boston College fell, 3-2, in triple overtime to the Huskies in its first post-season appearance in school history.
The second time the Eagles qualified for the tournament, he had beaten Seton Hall in the BIG EAST Championship game, 2-1 in overtime, then headed across town to face Boston University in the NCAA first round. In a tight battle, the Terriers got the best of the Eagles, winning 3-2 and cutting the Eagles' season short.
Impossible to Play Catch-Up -
When the Eagles score the game's first goal, their opponents should just about surrender to BC. Boston College is an amazing 12-0-1 when it scores the first goal in the game. Furthermore, when the Eagles hold the advantage on the scoreboard at halftime, the Eagles have gone undefeated at 11-0.
In tight, one-goal contests, Boston College is 9-5 when one goal decides the game and 6-4 in 1-0 shutouts.
Offense vs. Defense -
When the Eagles and Rams take the field on Sunday, it will be a battle between one of the best offenses in the nation and one of the best defenses in the land.
Boston College's defense is rated seventh nationally, giving up only .70 goals a game with nine shutouts. Goalkeeper Chris Hamblin is ninth in the country with his .73 goals against average and the team is tied for 11th in shutout percentage with a .474 clip (nine clean sheets in 19 games). Hamblin has only allowed 14 goals this season.
Rhode Island's offensive is the 13th-best in Div. I, scoring an average of 2.55 goals a game. Junior Nicholas McCreath is the 12th-most productive scorer in the nation, notching 2.14 points per game. Through 22 contests, he has 18 goals and 11 assists for 47 points.
Captains Named -
Head coach Ed Kelly named seniors Paul Bourke and Kevin Boyd as 2000 team captains. Bourke served as co-captain last year with Paul Cornoni. Both were backs and provided solid leadership to a young squad. Boyd was named captain in the spring and was also moved from his usual offensive position (midfielder and forward) to the backfield after the need for leadership was evidenced in spring practices.
It Started as a Dream Season - Then Finished the Same Way -
With its 4-1 start, the Boson College men's soccer team got off to its best start since 1978. In that year, BC won its first three games, dropped its fourth, and then won its next three. Three other times - 1998, 1993 and 1990 - the team kicked off the season with a 3-1-1 record. In 1993, Boston College finished the season 12-5-1 and lost to St. John's, 1-0, in overtime of the BIG EAST Conference championship game.
After a dip in the middle third of the season, the Eagles picked up right where the first half of the season left off, posting a 4-1-1 record down the stretch to finish the regular season. Four games were against ranked teams and the Eagles secured a third-place finish in the league and the first home-field playoff bid since 1995.
After storming through the BIG EAST tournament with wins over Georgetown (2-1 in overtime) in the quarterfinals, Rutgers (1-0) in the semifinals and Seton Hall (2-1) in the finals to win the league crown, the Eagles are now advancing to the NCAA tournament where few people thought they would be come November.
Streaking Eagles -
With wins in their last six games, the Eagles are in the midst of a six-match unbeaten streak. The stretch ties the second-longest in school history. The longest streak of seven games and the two second-longest streaks of six games have all occurred in the three seasons that Boston College has participated in the NCAA tournament.
In 1982, the school-record seven-game span consisted of wins over Vermont, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Brandeis, Holy Cross, Boston University and Connecticut.
The 1990 streak, matching the 2000 streak in length with six games, started on Oct. 24 with an overtime victory at Harvard and continued through victories over Hartwick, Holy Cross, Rhode Island, Syaracuse and Seton Hall. It ended on Nov. 11 with a loss to Boston University in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Currently, the Eagles are tied for the fourth-longest unbeaten streak in the nation with IUPUI (Indiana University/Purdue University at Indianapolis).
Who's Hot -
Several Eagles have been on fire in the past few games and led the Eagles to the school's second BIG EAST title and a third NCAA berth.
Sophomore Bobby Thompson has scored 10 points in the last five games on four goals and two assists. The five-game scoring streak is the longest of his collegiate career. In that span, he has netted three game-winning goals and assisted on another. This season, he has quardrupled his career scoring efforts at the Heights. Beginning in September, he had five career points on one goal and three assists. Now, he has six goal and eight assists for 20 points.
Goalkeeper Chris Hamblin has stopped 31 shots during the winning-streak, including posting three shutouts of his own while combining for a fourth. In the BIG EAST tournament, he made 15 saves in three games, allowing only two goals in over 282 minutes of play.
Senior Brian Mollo, finally seeing regular action after a career pestered with injuries, has scored a goal and added an assist in the last four games. In both his starts this season, he has netted points. Against Brown, he set up Thompson down the win for the score, while he notched the game's first goal on a turnaround shot in the finals of the BIG EAST Championships against Seton Hall.
The Eagle defense has shutout its opponents in four of the last six games and allowed only two goals in the six-game winning streak. It has allowed only 15.5 shots a game in the contests. Even in a 1-0 overtime loss to the nation's 12th-ranked team in St. John's, the defense only surrendered 11 shots and only one that was on net.
Eagles' National Ranking -
After nearly cracking the nation' top 25 earlier in the season when they kicked off the season with a 4-1 record. They were the second-highest Also Receiving Votes team on Sept. 18.
The Eagles have finally broken through and are ranked 22nd in the latest adidas/ National Soccer Coaches Association of America Poll released on Nov. 14.
One of the Best Seasons Ever -
The Eagles have made the 2000 season into one of the best seasons in school history. They have accumulated the fourth-most wins ever with the 12-6-1 campaign.
The best season on record came in 1980 when head coach Ben Brewster guided BC to a15-3-3 mark. He repeated the task in 1982 when, in the first year of the BIG EAST tournament, he led the team to the league championship game and the school's first ever NCAA tournamentberth. The team had a 15-5-3 mark that year.
Boston College has had eight season with double-digit wins, with only four coming in 1990 or later.
Youth Movement -
Though Boston College boasts a roster of 11 seniors, there is a significant youth movement going on at the Heights. Of the usual starting 11, only three players are in their final season of eligibility.
The regular starting lineup boasts three true freshmen (Kenny Adams, Adam Pfeifer, Kirt Dorsett), two sophomores (Casey Schmidt and Bobby Thompson) and two juniors (Chris Cleary and Martin Cantillo - redshirted). Senior Paul Bourke also has a year of eligibility remaining after receiving a medical redshirt in his sophomore season. In addition, the team's 12th man - the first man off the bench - Ramon Smith, is also a freshman.
The team's top five scorers are underclassmen and seven of the team's top 10 point-getters are returning next season.
Leaps and Bounds in League Play -
Boston College qualified for the BIG EAST tournament for the first time since 1997. In that year, Boston College amassed a 4-6-1 league record and was seeded eighth in the conference championships. The Eagles lost to No. 1 seed St. John's, 1-0, in overtime.
This season, the Eagles put together a 7-3-1 conference season. The seven wins are the second-most ever for the Eagles in BIG EAST play. In 1995, Boston College had eight wins - a school record in the league. Before that season, the most wins the Eagles accumulated in the BIG EAST was five, which they did three times (1994, 1993, 1990).
A major factor for the turnaround has been the combined play of the defense and goaltenders. After allowing 15 goals in league play in 1999, the Eagles only surrendered five goals in 11 league games this season, and one of those was on a penalty kick.
Giant Killers -
Entering the last third of the season, Boston College saw four ranked teams in the final six games of the regular season. The Eagles rose to the challenge, taking two wins and one tie from the teams. On Oct. 11, the Eagles tied then top-ranked UConn, 1-1, at home through two overtimes. On Oct. 15, BC defeated seventh-ranked Pittsburgh, 1-0, at home. The Eagles played valiantly at 12th-ranked St. John's, falling in overtime, 1-0, on the AstroTurf. At 22nd-ranked Syracuse, the Eagles defeated the Orangemen, 1-0.
In its final BIG EAST game of the season, Boston College topped Georgetown, who was ranked earlier in the season, 1-0. In the season's final regular season game, the Eagles defeated Brown in their third consecutive 1-0 shutout win over the team that was ranked 25th in the previous week's NSCAA poll.
In the finals of the BIG EAST tournament, the Eagles faced 15th-ranked Seton Hall for the championship. Winning 2-1, Boston College now has taken three wins and one tie (with only one loss) from the five teams its has played who were ranked by the NSCAA this season.
Up next for the Eagles are the 17th-ranked Rams of Rhode Island.
As Goes Casey, So Goes the Team -
Boston College has a 7-0-1 record when sophomore forward Casey Schmidt scores a goal this year. In games where he is held scoreless, the Eagles are 2-6. He missed three games this season - the Syracuse game, the Brown game and the BIG EAST Championship game against Seton Hall - with a reoccuring groin injury he sustained in the St. John's game on the AstroTurf.
He currently leads the team with eight goals and three assists for 19 points. The 2000 BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year and first team All-BIG EAST selection, he was named to the 1999 BIG EAST All-Rookie team with his 11 goals and two assists as he also led the Eagles in scoring. This season, he was the third-leading scorer in the BIG EAST in conference games and was a two-time BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Week. He was named to the Soccer America Team of the Week for his two-goal week against UConn and Pittsburgh and was also honored as the SoccerTimes.com national Player of the Week.
Three, Four, Five Cheers for Cleary -
Junior midfielder Chris Cleary is in the midst of his best season at the Heights. He has chipped in five goals, including four game-winners. The five goals mark a career high for him and have more than doubled his previous career total. In his freshman season, he netted two goals and added two more in his sophomore campaign. He has also added two assists this season, including a key set-up of Bobby Thompson's game-winning and homefield-clinching goal against Georgetown on Oct. 27.
Last year, he was the team's leading set-up man with six helpers. He has paired with Casey Schmidt to provide the bulk of the team's scoring chances this season. He is third on the team in shots with 41 behind Adam Pfeifer and Schmidt, and is a physical player who gives up his body for the ball.
Thompson's Turnaround -
Last season, Bobby Thompson scored only one goal and two assists in 12 games. This season, seeing action in all 19 games so far with 16 starts, the sophomore has netted a career-high five goals, including one in four of the last five games. Three game-winners - against Georgetown in the regular season, Brown and Seton Hall to win the BIG EAST Championship - have also helped BC to a six-game win streak.
He has also added three assists this season. He served a corner ball in the BIG EAST Semifinals that ended up finding the back of the net when Kevin Boyd flicked the ball to Casey Schmidt for the deciding score. He also added one against Providence on Ramon Smith's goal and then against Pittsburgh, found an open Schmidt in line with a pinched-in defense for the score. In the game against the Friars, he also netted his first goal of the season.
Most Outstanding Player -
Bobby Thompson's perfomance in the three games of the BIG EAST tournament earned him the championship's Most Outstanding Player Award. He netted two goals and added two assists (including a one goal, one assist effort in the championship game) to lead the Eagles through the tournament. He had two game-winning goals (in the quarterfinals and in the finals) and also assisted on Casey Schmidt's game-winner in the semifinals off a corner serve.
After moving from forward to midfield in the latter part of the season, he has really come on strong and been the most dangerous force on the field for the Eagles.
Set-Up Man -
Freshman Adam Pfeifer leads the Eagles in assists with six this season. He has assisted on two game-winners this season and had a multiple-assist game against Providence earlier in the season. A heralded recruit who was an All-American and the Gatorade Massachusetts Player of the Year at Newton North High School last year, he has been instrumental in adding to the Eagle attack this season. He has added spunk and speed to the attack for the Eagles this season and leads the team in shots with 47.
Gentleman Between the Pipes -
Senior Chris Hamblin has turned in his best-ever season at the Heights. A native of Bristol, England, his .71 goals against average is the lowest at Boston College since Gordon Farkouh had a .51 average in 1982 in 23 games. Over the course of the season, he has lowered his GAA from 1.72 after the Boston University game to its current level of .71.
Concluding the regular BIG EAST season, Hamblin ranked third in the BIG EAST in the goalkeeping statistics with both his overall and league GAA. He posted a .44 GAA in league contests, while amassing a career high eight shutouts - seven of which came during regular-season BIG EAST play. His .44 average in 11 BIG EAST games bested the BIG EAST record of .46 held by Jon Urbom of St. John's, set in 1993 in eight games. However, Bryheem Hancock of UConn (.43 GAA) and Jeffrey Stoklosa of St. John's (.29) also broke the record this season.
Last season, Hamblin posted a 1.22 GAA overall and a 1.66 GAA in league games. His career average rests at 1.04 with 24 shutouts, which he lowered from 1.16 over the season.
Rookie Contributions -
Four first-year players have seen regular time in the lineup this season for Ed Kelly. Kirt Dorsett and Adam Pfeifer have started almost every game for the Eagles this year, with 18 and 15 starts under their belts, respectively. Pfeifer leads the team in assists with six, while Dorsett - an All-BIG EAST Rookie team selection this season - has proven to be a key player at center midfield, both offensively and defensively. Ramon Smith has been called on four times to start and has provided a key spark off the bench with threatening offensive rushes at forward. Defender Kenny Adams has started all 17 games he has played in and earned BIG EAST Rookie of the Week honors at the beginning of September for his play in the Notre Dame game.
Boyd Moved to Backfield -
Prior to the start of the 2000 season, senior Kevin Boyd was moved from his normal forward/midfield position to the backfield when the need for experienced leadership was evidenced. Boyd led the team in scoring in his freshman season with five goals and one assist, then tied for the team lead in scoring in his sophomore year with eight points (three goals and two assists).
To stay true to his offensive upbringing, head coach Ed Kelly keeps Boyd involved in corners - both in front of the net and sending in passes from the corner. This season, Boyd has posted two assists, both on Casey Schimdt goals. He set up his goal against Notre Dame earlier in the season and then flicked a ball to him for the score - and the deciding goal - in the BIG EAST Semifinals against Rutgers.
Difference in Defense -
Last season, Boston College gave up 1.30 goals a game and allowed an average of 12 shots a game. This season, while allowing more shots per game, the team defense has substantially tightened allowing just .69 goals a game and posting eight shutouts.
Senior keeper Chris Hamblin has combined with the backfield to post seven shutouts in BIG EAST games, a league high, and then added his eighth in the BIG EAST Semifinals against Rutgers with five saves and a 1-0 win. The also team posted an additional shutout over Brown when Hamblin combined with Tim O'Halloran and Danny Caruso to shutout the Bears.
The Eagles lost two of their defenders to graduation last year - playing only three backs - but they brought in three new starting defenders (Martin Cantillo, Kevin Boyd and Kenny Adams) who have all proved more than up to the task of keeping the opponent out of the backfield. Co-captain Paul Bourke is the only returnee from 1999.
National Honors Roll In -
Two players on the Eagle roster have been recognized nationally for their play this season. Sophomores Casey Schmidt and Bobby Thompson have both been named to the Soccer America national men's Team of the Week this season. Schmidt earned the honor after he netted two goals in two games against then top-ranked Conecticut to insure a tie and then four days later against then No.7 Pitsburgh to give the Eagles a 1-0 win. Thompson nabbed the distinction for his Most Outstanding Player performance in the BIG EAST tournament. Schmidt was also named SoccerTimes.com's Player of the Week for his play against the two top teams.
Rhode Island Connections -
Two players on the Boston College roster have Rhode Island connections.
Senior John McCann, a native of Barrington, R.I., was a member of one of the nation's best high school programs while at Barrington High School. His team was ranked eighth nationally in his senior season and 11th in his junior season. He started all four varsity seasons and was a two-time captain of the team.
Sophomore Jonathan Munko is from Scituate, R.I. A three-year member of LaSalle Academy's soccer team, he had three goals and 45 assists. He also captained the team in his senior season.
Friends Across the Line -
Several players on both the Boston College and Rhode Island teams have associations with each other dating back before their current teams.
Rams keeper Mark Bryant and Eagle keeper Chris Hamblin are both seniors from Bristol, England who are close friends and train together in the offseason, swapping time between Boston and Kingston.
URI's senior Sean Barrett and BC's junior Chris Powell are both from Kingston, Jamaica and both have transferred to their current schools from southern power Florida International. Three other players on the Rams' roster are also from Kingston, Jamaica: junior Dennis Richards, sophomore Anthony Curtis and junior Nicholas McCreath. Eagle freshman Ramon Smith was also born in Jamaica.
Rhode Island freshman Sean Maloney is from the same hometown and high school - Barrington, R.I. and Barrington High School - as Eagle senior forward John McCann.
Penalty Kick- A True Definition -
Boston College has seen four penalty kicks this season - three for the opponents and one for themselves. In the second game of the season on Sept. 3, Boston University was awarded two penalty kicks in the game's final seven minutes and tied the game at 3-3 after making both to send the game into overtime. Against Rutgers on Sept. 22, the game was scoreless in overtime when Rutgers was awarded a penalty kick. The successful attempt gave the Scarlet Knights the win, 1-0, in the 92nd minute.
The Eagles' only penalty kick of their own this season came at Dartmouth when senior Sjur Gundersen's attempt was good. However, the Eagles were down 2-0 at the time and only managed a 2-1 final score. The score marked Gundersen's first career goal at Boston College.
Back for More -
Though listed on Boston College's roster as seniors, defenders Martin Cantillo and Paul Bourke both have the opportunity to return for the 2001 season.
Cantillo redshirted the 1999 season and still has a year of eligibility remaining, while Bourke played only four games during the 1998 season due to injury and preserved a year of eligibility with a medical redshirt.
Boyd Out This Game -
Senior backfielder Kevin Boyd will be forced to sit out the NCAA tournament first round game against Rhode Island after he received his eighth yellow card of the season against Seton Hall in the finals of the BIG EAST Championship. He was also forced to sit out the West Virginia game on Oct. 7 after he was carded for the fifth time in the Dartmouth game.
International Flavor -
Seven different countries are represented on the Boston College roster: the United States, England, Ireland, Norway, Jamaica, Trinidad and Costa Rica.
The team boasts four players from Norway: Sjur Gundersen, Jorgen Lie, Eyvind Aasen and Espen Skaug. Starting keeper Chris Hamblin is from Bristol, England. Co-Captain Paul Bourke hails from Cork, Ireland. Chris Powell and Ramon Smith both were born in Jamaica. Kirt Dorsett originates from Trinidad. In addition, Martin Cantillo's family emigrated to the United States from Costa Rica when he was younger.
New Pitch to Play On -
The 1999 season marked a new era for the Boston College soccer program with the opening of the Newton Campus Soccer Field. The new playing surface, which won the Soccer Managers' Association College Soccer Field of the Year Award in 1999, was dedicated at the men's game against Army on Sept. 12, 1999.
Prior to its opening, both the men's and women's teams played their home matches at area high schools and prep schools.
The new field lets soccer be played the way soccer was meant to be played: in daylight and without loudspeaker amplification. There are no substitution horns or pre-game warm-up tapes, nor are there any speakers in regular season games.
Since the field's opening, the men's team has posted a 10-6-3 record on the pitch, including a 7-2-1 mark in 2000. The women's team has notched a 13-2 mark since the field's dedication.