Freshman midfielder Luke Hille bagged a game-winning header to lift the NC State men’s soccer team to its first ACC win on senior night, beating the Boston College Eagles 1-0.
The Wolfpack (7-7-2, 1-5-2 ACC) took 26 shots compared to five from the Eagles (6-6-2, 2-4-2), but both teams went through regulation and the first overtime without scoring a goal before Hille’s game-winner with less than three minutes left in double overtime.
“I’m just really excited, “Hille said. “We had a big night tonight and we’re just happy we could send [the seniors] off in the right way… really just excited to get the three points,” “(Freshman midfielder) Noe Cabezas wrapped his hips around and got it up to me and I was able to get the job done.”
Hille’s goal came as retribution after having what would’ve been the game-winning penalty kick saved by the Boston College keeper. Despite the remarkable effort from the goalie, the advantage in a shot from the penalty spot always goes to the attacker, and it's one Hille would surely want to try again. The freshman stuck to his guns, however, and fought back to win the game over a shorthanded Eagles’ side.
“He’s so driven, I know how much that ticked him off,” said head coach George Kiefer. “I felt he’d get one, so I’m pleased that he did. He’s just such a competitor.”
Despite the 0-0 scoreline heading into halftime, things were looking up for the Pack, which led in both shots and corners taken by a hefty margin. These stats were a clear indication of the possessive dominance shown by the red-and white before the break, with NC State ahead in shots by a margin of six-to-one and and boasting seven corners to the Eagles’ zero.
Another thing that was elevating the Pack’s play in the first was the creativity in the offensive third from senior forward Ivy Brisma. Brisma has always been considered one of NC State’s craftier forwards, constantly using his footwork to create space for himself and his teammates, and it was on full display in the first half. At the half, Brisma was tied for team-leader in shots with two and his ability to create separation from defenders contributed massively to the Pack’s clear advantage on offense.
“I think Ivy is really starting to get in good form right now,” said Kiefer. “You can find him with one ball in behind or if you get it to his feet he can beat you off the dribble.”
Despite the deficiency in the final third for Boston College, it contributed just as much as the Pack in keeping the score level at zero apiece at the break. The Eagles did well to put a stop to a number of Wolfpack counter attacks with solid defensive play from the midfield as well as keeping NC State out of its box for the majority of the half. By doing so, Boston College was able to limit meaningful attempts on goal for NC State that would ultimately see the Pack unable to open the scoring after the first 45 minutes of play.
Things remained largely the same in the second half, with NC State continuing to assert its authority in the offensive third. A culmination of corner kicks and shots kept the Eagles on their heels, but the Pack wasn’t able to capitalize on the heightened pressure.
The game’s physicality was one aspect that saw a big change in the second half of play, with four cards being issued by the official. A pair of the four cards would see Boston College’s Sam White off the field, acquiring his second yellow of the match and forcing his side to go on with 10 men. What was already in the Wolfpack’s favor remained that way with the removal of White, which led to even more space for NC State attackers to move into.
“There was a little period where I thought we were getting a little over emotional, we just had to settle that mentality down and stick to what we were trying to do, shoot the ball,” said Kiefer. “The blue collar, the toughness, the NC State, I really saw that tonight.”
Next up, the Pack will travel to South Bend, Indiana on Wednesday, Nov. 3 to take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the ACC Tournament. NC State enters as the No. 12 seed, while the Irish are the No. 5 seed.
“I’m not even sure who we will play on Wednesday, I know it’ll be a good team but I haven’t walked away in horror of any of them,” Kiefer said.