In the team’s home opener, the Boston College women’s soccer squad rallied late in the second half to win 2-0 over Harvard. A hard-fought contest between the two Boston-area schools, the game marked the Eagles’ sixth consecutive victory and the Crimson’s first loss of the 2014 season.
The win was also the BC squad’s fourth straight against Harvard. Over the course of those four matches, the Eagles outscored the Crimson by 13 goals, 15-2.
While this combined margin of victory seems to point toward the Eagles’ consistent dominance on the pitch, the first half of Saturday’s game was far from an exhibition. While BC succeeded in taking shots, with seven total volleys in the half, Harvard was able to disrupt many of the team’s drives—and able to foil several close opportunities.
The Crimson played steady midfield and upfield defense through the first 45 minutes of play, keeping pressure on the Eagles and restricting their passing game.
Potential BC breakaways were also met with strong defense—specifically those led by Lauren Bernard. The junior midfielder, who pushed the ball upfield several times throughout the half, was given limited space by Harvard defender Bailey Gary. Gary appeared to mirror each of Bernard’s moves, as each No. 5 from both teams battled for possession of the ball.
While Harvard played solidly in these respects, BC came close to scoring on a few occasions. The most notable of the team’s chances was a penalty kick. An errant Harvard tackle in the 35th minute sent BC’s senior forward Stephanie McCaffrey hurtling to the ground inside the box. Awarded the penalty, McCaffrey struck a low volley to her left. But Harvard’s goalkeeper, Lizzie Durack, leapt and snagged the shot keeping the game level.
The narrative of the second half, which BC and Harvard entered 0-0, initially seemed to copy that of the first. But the BC squad’s capitalization on some major scoring opportunities toward the game’s end gave those final 45 minutes a much different outcome.
The first of the Eagles’ two goals came in the 77th minute. Fouled once again, this time just outside of the box, McCaffrey was the chance’s architect. Twenty-four yards to the left of the Harvard goalkeeper, the senior forward sent an arcing cross off the side of her neon green boot. Sophomore forward Hayley Dowd rushed toward the looping ball and one-timed it into the back of the net, giving BC the 1-0 lead over Harvard.
The goal was Hayley Dowd’s sixth of the 2014 season, and McCaffrey, who was credited with the assist, tied ’13 graduate Victoria DiMartino for fifth all-time in the assists category. The successful cross improved McCaffrey’s career helper total to 25.
While Dowd’s goal gave BC the lead, a second score ended the game. As the benches at Newton Soccer Field rattled with excited stomps, and as visiting youth soccer players led the fans in chants of “Let’s go Eagles,” the BC squad once again moved the ball upfield. In the 82nd minute, speeding from the left sideline, Bernard strode into Harvard’s box with the ball and passed it over toward the far right goalpost. Sophomore forward Andrea O’Brien met the pass and launched it into the net, recording the first goal of her BC career.
O’Brien’s shot firmly ended what nearly was a Harvard rally. Four minutes before the BC team extended its lead, the Ivy Leaguers almost notched a goal of their own, as one of the Crimson’s midfielders, Brooke Dickens, narrowly missed with a headed effort.
In spite of this late drive, and the fact that Harvard almost matched BC’s second-half shot total (3-4), the Crimson were unable to come back and defeat the surging Eagles. In front of a home crowd, BC improved to 7-1 on the season.
Featured Image by Graham Beck / Heights Senior Staff