A swarm of orange stampedes downfield with the Eagles at its heels. The swarm disperses and its members circle the cage before closing in on the net. The bleachers go silent as the bright yellow ball slams into the twine behind Zoe Ochoa’s back. The swarm gathers at the top of the arc to celebrate before heading back to midfield. As it clears, Ochoa is at the goal line on her hands and knees, staring at the ground in defeat. She slams her stick on the turf in frustration. Her team has dug itself a 6-0 hole. After gathering herself together, she gets back up on her feet to continue the fight.
The No. 2 Boston College Eagles (10-1, 4-1 ACC) hosted the No. 5 University of Virginia Cavaliers (8-4, 2-2 ACC) for a snow-filled match. The undefeated Eagles hoped to keep their winning streak alive but ultimately fell to the Cavs 15-13.
UVA came out strong and stormed down the field straight out of the gate. Senior Casey Bocklet put her team on the board first after sending a rocket past Ochoa 15 seconds into the game. From there, the Cavaliers continued to push as the Eagles’ defense allowed its opponents to slip through the cracks and find the net.
BC attempted to set up offensive plays in order to spread the defense. The Cavaliers stayed solid and denied BC any access inside the eight-meter arc. UVA capitalized on BC turnovers by out-running defenders on breakaways and sneaking past Ochoa. This became habit and midway through the first half, UVA hushed the crowd after amounting a 6-0 lead.
It was clear something needed to be fixed and coach Acacia Walker called a timeout. “We weren’t following our game plan really well, Walker said. “We reminded them of the important things that we were supposed to do going into the game. There is a no panic rule on the team and the girls are so composed that they refresh their memory of what we are supposed to be doing.”
The Eagles came out and set up their offense to search for the perfect alley to the net. After 18 minutes of play, senior Covie Stanwick found it, charged to the goal, and put her team on the board. The Eagles’ defense gathered itself together and shut out the UVA offense, allowing BC to slowly chip away at the deficit. With the defense holding the Cavaliers to only two more goals, BC went to halftime chasing a one-goal deficit with a score of 8-7.
Much like the first half, UVA came out and scored. The Eagles kept it together and responded. The Cavaliers turned up their offense and broke down the Eagles’ defensive barrier. BC attempted to retaliate but UVA’s freshman goalie Rachel Vander Kolk denied access to the goal every time.
With seven minutes remaining in the game, BC knew it had to make a charge to maintain its perfect season. Coming out of a timeout, Sarah Mannelly scored her fourth goal of the game to end her team’s 13-minute scoring drought.
Fifteen seconds later, Mannelly connected with wide-open Mikaela Rix who put one past Vander Kolk to bring the Eagles within three. Down 15-12 and only four minutes on the clock, Walker decided to pull Ochoa and put another offensive player on the field. The team felt confident with this decision. “We’ve been in this situation a lot: we should’ve been better,” Walker said. “It’s always a tough thing with timing, when to do it. If it’s too early or too late but I don’t regret any of the decisions we made.”
The decision paid off. The BC offensive players pulled to the right side of the 12-meter arc, dragging the UVA defense with them. Rix then wrapped around the pack and flew into the open left side and fired the ball into the twine.
Ochoa went back in but as soon as BC claimed possession she was pulled once again. After a save by Vander Kolk, it seemed like UVA was going to have the chance to run down field and fire one into the empty net. Mannelly denied the Cavaliers this as she intercepted the goalie’s clear. In the final two minutes, BC rapidly fired desperation with no avail. Vander Kolk remained composed and singlehandedly ended the Eagles’ hopes to continue a perfect season.
The final buzzer sounded and the orange swarm stormed the field. The scoreboard read 15-13 in the visitor’s favor as Ochoa and the Eagles vacated the field with their heads hanging low.
Featured Image by Arthur Bailin / Heights Editor