WOMEN'S SOCCER: Lackluster Defense Hurts BC
Eagles Forced To Settle For Tie With Central Florida
Published: Sunday, September 9, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
On a beautiful Sunday afternoon in Newton, two elite teams exchanged blows for 110 minutes, each unable to deliver a knockout punch. The No. 6 Boston College women’s soccer team dueled No. 8 UCF into a 2-2 double overtime draw, grinding through a game characterized by flashes of brilliance and marred by general inconsistency.
BC struck first in the 16th minute, capitalizing on a rare opening in the UCF defense. Pressing high and working hard to contain the ever-threatening Eagle attack, UCF failed to drop back fast enough after losing the ball near midfield, leaving a dangerous amount of space in the middle. Senior Kristie Mewis was first on scene and tore through the midfield with an evasive, darting run. With only one defender to beat at the top of the box, Mewis cut to her left and fired the ball home across her body, burying the ball behind a stunned UCF defense.
Instead of demoralizing UCF, Mewis’ goal fired the Knights into high gear, and the game’s momentum pulled a complete 180. Overrun by the furious Knights, BC’s central midfield practically disappeared from the last 25 minutes of the first half and BC quickly found itself on its heels. UCF swarmed the Eagles with high-pressure soccer, anticipating well and frustrating BC with chippy and physical play. Called upon numerous times, the Eagles’ backline looked great in the first half, repelling the Knights’ attacks and creating counter attack opportunities with both long balls and controlled clearances. With constant pressure on the back four and very little offensive retaliation, however, BC was lucky to escape the first half ahead.
The referee’s whistle started the second half and cued another momentum swing, as the Eagles left the gate on fire. Spreading the field well and connecting its passes, BC was extremely unlucky not to score when Victoria DiMartino spun off of her defender and ripped a shot at goal.
As the Eagles continued to dominate and the remaining time continued to dwindle, UCF switched into a full press, sending three players up top. The effect was nearly instantaneous. Spread too thin by the extra attackers, BC was left completely exposed and was punished in the 68th minute off of an unmarked give-and-go that culminated with the ball being smashed off the crossbar and into the net.
Only minutes later, the UCF high-powered attack struck again, taking the lead in the 72nd minute.
BC responded in signature fashion, an all-out assault. The Eagles attacked furiously, and were awarded a free kick in the 80th minute when DiMartino was brought down inches outside of the box. Mewis lined up to take the kick, and smashed a knuckling laser directly at the keeper. Unable to hold on to Mewis’ blast, the keeper spilled the ball, and a goal-hungry Kate McCarthy was there to equalize for her third goal of the season. BC continued to battle until the end of the first 90 minutes and, despite its efforts, regular time ended with the score tied 2-2.
The beginning of the golden goal extra period was marked by a goalkeeper change for UCF, and continued attack from the Eagles. BC nearly found the back of the net in both of the 10-minute overtime periods, the best opportunity coming when DiMartino ripped a shot off the right post that left the UCF keeper watching. In addition, a controversial no-call from the referee occurred when Mewis was pulled down in the box, but remaining consistently inconsistent, the referee refused to blow the whistle.
When asked about her team’s defensive performance, head coach Alison Foley expressed regret, admitting that it wasn’t one of her team’s “best overall performances” and that she was “disappointed on the goals [UCF] scored.” Ultimately, it was the mental lapses of the defense that killed the Eagles on Sunday, and while they showed grit to fight back for a tie, BC could have won this one.