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By Rob Daniels, for theACC.com
CARY, N.C. – A philosopher-poet once asked, “What’s in a name?” Of the Boston College Eagles, you could just as easily ask, “What’s in a number?”⨪Answer: very little. At least in one case.
BC, listed as the seventh seed in the original nine-team draw of the ACC Men’s Soccer Tournament, advanced to the finals with a 2-1 win over No. 2 Duke on Friday when Diego Medina-Mendez volleyed in a corner kick with 24:57 left and the Eagles held on. If the Eagles’ ranking within this exceptionally competitive fraternity suggested they were longshots to survive, their play did not.
The truth is the Eagles would have been seeded first if they had beaten North Carolina in the regular-season finale. While falling to No. 7 in their own league, they stood seventh in all of Division I (203 teams worth) in the RPI dated Tuesday.
“I don’t pay attention to all these seeding things,” Medina-Mendez said Friday. “It’s soccer.”
And it was intensely played for 90 minutes at WakeMed Stadium, where Boston College will face the top-seeded Tar Heels for the title at noon Sunday (ESPNU). The game-winner was every bit as unusual as the numerology surrounding the tournament. Kyle Becker hit a corner kick within five yards of the goal. The ball was the sort that almost always results in a header because congestion around the six-yard box is so intense. Not this time. Medina-Mendez, much to his surprise, was open, and he simply stuck his toe out there and knocked it home, making sure to hit it just under the crossbar.
“I was sort of waiting for the ball to see if it was really going to come to me,” he said.
Eagles coach Ed Kelly admitted to his pleasant shock as well.
“We got lucky on the goal, right?” he said. “I didn’t see it. It just dropped in there.”
What followed was more conventional: Duke made a fervent charge, possessing the ball in or near the box for much of the time that remained. Goalkeeper Justin Luthy punched two dangerous balls out of harm’s way and his defenders blocked half a dozen shots down the stretch.
“We did a great job of defending in the last 20 or 25 minutes. Or hour and a half. Or whatever it was,” Kelly said.
Duke broke on top when Luthy failed to clear a corner kick in the 15th minute and the Devils’ Nat Eggleston happily pounced on it.
But the Eagles, to their credit, got even exactly 10 minutes later when Medina-Mendez played one into the box that Amit Aburmad volleyed home from seven yards out.
The shot count, 10-10, was reflective of the even play that followed.
The Eagles will make their second appearance in the championship game. They defeated Wake Forest 2-1 in 2007.