“Ping!” Covie Stanwick’s shot had beaten Bryant goaltender Brianna Watt, but the pipe stood strong, denying the Eagles their first goal of the game and preserving the Bulldogs’ early 2-0 lead. Boston College, 0-2 in the NCAA Tournament heading into the game, had gone almost seven minutes without scoring. Bryant had controlled the draws, and BC’s offense was being held in check. Hitting the post seemed like an ominous sign for how the rest of the afternoon would go.
“Our defense did a good job of stopping them, and then we came down and got the next goal and made it 2-1, then 2-2, and then kept going,” Stanwick said after the game. Kept going is exactly what Stanwick did, as she was almost completely unable to miss for the rest of the game, scoring five goals and amassing eight total points in BC’s 17-9 win over Bryant in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
It wasn’t Stanwick who opened the scoring for BC, though, as Kate Rich was able to convert a free position shot at the 6:50 mark of the first half. From then on, it was all BC. The Eagles scored four straight and never gave up their lead again. Early on, Bryant had been able to stifle BC’s offense by winning the draws and keeping possession. Once the Eagles began winning draws, however, there was nothing the Bulldogs could do. BC ended up controlling 20 of the 27 draws in the game. Time and again, Mikaela Rix and Stanwick used their height and tremendous leaping ability to snag the loose ball up in the air.
Once BC won the draws, it was able to use its speed to completely overwhelm Bryant’s defense. “Once we got the draw, we kind of just were locked in, like ‘Let’s get this draw, let’s go put it in the back of the net,’” Stanwick said.
During one sequence in the middle of the first half, the Eagles were able to score three goals in 32 seconds, with the second two coming directly off of draw wins. This run pushed the Eagles’ lead from 4-3 to 7-3, but it wouldn’t even be BC’s greatest stretch of the day. From the end of the first half through the beginning of the second half, BC scored five straight goals to take a 14-5 lead, effectively ending the game. In fact, for the final 10-plus minutes of the game, BC head coach Acacia Walker was able to rest most of her starters, including Rix, Mannelly, Stanwick, Kate McCarthy, Claire Blohm, in anticipation of their second round game against Loyola, MD.
BC’s offense has been one of the most fearsome in the nation this year, with scoring coming from anywhere at anytime. Rix, Mannelly, and Stanwick have taken turns torturing opposing defenses with their ability to beat anybody one-on-one, break out in transition, and ruthlessly convert free position shots.
Defensively, BC held Bryant to under double-digit goals, but Walker is never satisfied. “We’re going to have to have a little bit of a better defensive day on Sunday than we did today,” she said. On multiple occasions, a single Bryant attacker was able to create space and split the BC defense before beating goaltender Zoe Ochoa for a goal.
Ochoa showed great poise against Bryant, her first NCAA tournament start, and just her second career start overall. A freshman, Ochoa was equal to the task, making five saves and looking calm, cool, and collected after being thrown into the fire. “No,” said Walker when asked if she had concerns about Ochoa’s lack of experience moving forward. “Zoe is incredibly tough, she works so hard, she’s been mentored by Emily all year,” Walker said. “She’s ready for it.”
BC got off to a bad start against Bryant, but after hearing the disappointing “ping” of Stanwick’s first shot ringing off the pipe, the only thing the Eagles heard for the rest of the afternoon was the gentle “swish” of the ball finding nothing but twine.