WOMEN'S SOCCER: Foley Has BC Ready For ACC Play
Published: Thursday, September 13, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
In a conference like the ACC, everyone looks to women’s soccer powerhouses like Duke, North Carolina, and Boston College as the top clubs. And these teams’ dominance in 2011 came partly at the expense of BC’s upcoming opponent this Thursday evening in Chestnut Hill, the Clemson Tigers, who finished an abysmal 0-10 in conference play last season.
But that doesn’t mean head coach Alison Foley and the No. 5 Eagles will be taking the Tigers lightly.
“Clemson is off to one of their best years in a long time,” Foley said. “Their new coaching staff has the group organized and moving in the right direction. They improved drastically over last season. By virtue of it being the first ACC game, there will be a lot of energy on both sides and anything can happen.”
Foley’s cautious words are backed by Clemson’s hot start to this year. For a team that finished last year with a dismal 6-12 record, the Tigers seem to have put the past behind them, as they currently sit at 5-1-2. Their lone loss came at Furman University, where they were downed 1-0 in overtime.
As Foley alluded to, Clemson head coach Eddie Radwanski enters his second season at the helm of the program. Radwanski’s squad has thus far been paced by sophomore forward Liska Dobberstein (four goals) and senior midfielder Maddy Elder, who has chipped in six assists through eight matches.
The Tigers are also yet to allow more than one goal in a game, and freshman goalkeeper Hunter Rittgers has already earned four shutouts in 2012. While not mentioning any names, Foley expressed wariness of all these improved areas for Thursday evening’s matchup.
“They have looked really balanced on both offense and defense,” Foley said. “They’ve got a couple of precise finishers and they serve accurately, so nothing we earn will come easily. Typically in ACC games, it’s tough to come by good opportunities to score.”
For a perennial title-contending squad like BC, its results to date would indicate that a strong start to ACC play should not be a problem.
At 5-0-2, the Eagles already boast impressive victories over No. 19 Boston University, Connecticut, and Northeastern. These are all in addition to picking up a crucial point in a draw on the road at No. 4 Stanford, which has become their annual tormentor in the NCAA tournament.
Their last result came on Sunday evening, when No. 6 Central Florida visited the Heights and fought its way to a tough 2-2 draw. Kristie Mewis scored the opening goal of the match for BC, extending her consecutive points streak to seven games. The Eagles demonstrated themselves to be much more than a one-woman team though, as numerous attackers had good opportunities to score before junior Kate McCarthy evened up the game late in the second half.
On the score sheet, BC is paced by Mewis (4 goals, 5 assists), sophomore Stephanie McCaffrey (four goals), freshman defender McKenzie Meehan (four goals), and McCarthy (three goals). According to Foley, however, it might be the names that have not yet appeared in the goal column that will serve as the keys to unlocking Clemson’s defense: captain midfielder Gibby Wagner and senior forward Victoria DiMartino.
“We’ve got a lot of really good weapons,” Foley said of her team’s attack. “We’ve got girls pitching in goals from a lot of positions, and I think when your defense is as potent as ours, it’s harder to stifle our attack. Vicky and Gibby—maybe not in stats, but in coaching measurement—have been fantastic away from the ball and the goal. They’ve provided a lot of secondary assists, runs away from the ball, and just the little things to help us win. That can’t go without notice.”
After they host Clemson on Thursday, the Eagles will travel to Cambridge on Saturday to take on their crosstown rival Harvard, in what will serve as one of their last non-conference games of the regular season. Foley specifically pointed to that game as a crucial match to set up BC’s foray into conference play down the stretch.
“Anytime you talk about local derbies, they bring a different sentiment to the table,” Foley said. “Everyone wants to be the best in Boston, and right now we’re on top [after beating both BU and Northeastern], with everyone wanting to knock us off.”
To date, the Eagles have taken each and every opponent, ranked or not, in stride. With the team looking like an early national title contender, there is no reason not to believe that it will emerge from this weekend with a record of 1-0 in the ACC, and atop its perch in the city of Boston.