Sports, Fall

Bernard, Dowd Lift BC Over Panthers

Coming off a short Boston College corner, Lauren Bernard collected the ball at the top right of the box. The junior turned and fired a left-footed shot to the top-left corner of the net, easily clearing the reach of Milwaukee’s keeper. Bernard’s strike, which came in the 47th minute of Friday night’s match against UW-Milwaukee, gave BC women’s soccer the lead and proved to be the deciding point in the game.

BC would add on another goal later in the half, giving the team its fourth consecutive victory on the road, and improving its overall record to 5-1 on the year. Over this recent four-game span, the Eagles have allowed just one goal, and shut out their opposition in each of the previous three games.

Senior goalkeeper Alex Johnson, who kept her third cleansheet on the bounce, has spearheaded this defensive effort. Johnson’s biggest stop in Friday’s clash came 27 minutes into the match, when a handball in the box led to a penalty kick opportunity for Milwaukee. Vienna Behnke aimed the PK on the ground to the left of Johnson, but the veteran keeper dove to her side to make the save.

“Any time your goalkeeper comes up with a big save, an extra spurt of energy comes up,” head coach Alison Foley said. “You can’t celebrate at the time because you have to go on with the game, but it added to the intensity.”

Johnson had four saves on the day, a season-high. She has allowed just three goals in six games, and has made 16 saves. Even while the team has had to remain versatile while dealing with the loss of senior center back, Casey Morrison, who is out for the year with a torn ACL, BC has maintained a strong backfield.

“We started our preseason and the beginning of the season with a 3-5-2 formation, since we thought that would fit best with our players’ personalities,” Foley said. “We switched to a 4-3-3, and that system has worked. Since then, we haven’t allowed a goal.”

While Boston College held a commanding 9-2 advantage in shots over the course of the first half, Milwaukee keeper Paige Lincicum prevented the team from breaking onto the scoreboard, making five saves in the first 45 minutes. Lincicum couldn’t hold off her opponent’s attack indefinitely, and BC managed to net two of its six shots in the second half. Stephanie McCaffrey and Meg MacDonald assisted the first goal from Bernard, who would later go on to assist Hayley Dowd’s goal in the 78th minute.

This was the fourth goal in the past three games for Dowd, who has stepped up as a sophomore this season to lead the squad in goals (four) and points (nine) thus far.

“She has been great,” Foley said. “She had a great spring and a great postseason. She trained very hard in the offseason, and has matured very well. She improved her ability to turn, and has a lot more poise on the field.”

The Eagles will need Dowd to continue this effort as they begin to face off against ACC matchups later this month. The team will also look to McCaffrey and Bernard, the two players who currently rank second and third for BC in points, to help fill the void created by McKenzie Meehan’s Achilles injury.

Featured Image by Graham Beck / Heights Senior Staff

September 7, 2014