Eagles Force OT In Draw With No. 3 Florida State

Sometimes, the numbers do lie.

Trailing 1-0 at halftime on the road against No. 3 Florida State (13-2-3, 6-1-3 ACC), Boston College women’s soccer faced an uphill struggle with its two superstars nowhere to be found.

McKenzie Meehan and Hayley Dowd, the Eagles’ one-two punch and soon-to-be recipients of All-ACC accolades, were muffled in the first 45 minutes by a vicious Seminole defense. Throughout the season, Florida State had only allowed two goals in the second half or overtime to opponents—both proving to be insignificant in blowout victories. The first half didn’t even produce a single shot on goal for BC (11-6-2, 5-3-2 ACC).

That’s why, when a Seminole defender coughed up the ball and allowed Dowd to beat the keeper and tie the game less than three minutes into the second half, even the Eagles looked surprised.
Dowd’s 12th goal of the year shifted the momentum and the game plan for BC in its last game of the regular season. The Eagles, more than happy to draw against the nation’s leading team in RPI, dropped nearly all their players back to protect the goal and preserve the tie.

Thus began the cycle of FSU scoring opportunities: shot, save, repeat. BC goalie Alexis Bryant notched eight saves during the match, and none of them were easy. When the Eagles backline held strong and managed to clear the ball, there was always a Seminole defender patiently waiting for the rebound, uncontested because of BC’s defensive-minded approach. By the end of the match, FSU had amounted 15 shots, 10 of them on goal, and several more deflected off the post. On the other hand, the Eagles mustered only eight total shots and one corner kick.

The main reason the Eagles were so worried about another FSU goal was that, well, it would take a miracle for BC to score again.

The Eagles’ worst nightmare came true when, with less than five minutes remaining in regulation, freshman midfielder Megan Connolly hit a beautiful strike to the upper left corner from just inside the box to give the ‘Noles a 2-1 lead on their Senior Night.

It’s a shame that reigning ACC Player of the Week McKenzie Meehan had to spoil it.

Upon resuming play after the goal, the Eagles booted the ball up field in a last-ditch effort to send the game into overtime. FSU hadn’t seen action near its goal since Dowd’s first equalizer, and acted accordingly. The Seminole defense looked at the ball like a foreign object, hesitating on a clearance and allowing a through ball to bounce into its own 18-yard box.

Dowd briefly battled for possession with two FSU defenders before going down in a heap, grabbing at her leg in extreme pain. All eyes darted toward the head referee as he jogged over to assess the scene of the crime. The whistle blew. Guilty.

It wasn’t Halloween anymore, but FSU head coach Mark Krikorian looked like he had just seen a ghost.

After Dowd’s teammates carried her off the field, the spotlight turned to Meehan, whose game-winner last week in overtime lifted BC over Miami in a back-and-forth shootout.

Meehan showed no signs of rust, striking the penalty kick into the top right corner to tie the game at 2-2. The textbook finish was redshirt junior’s ACC-leading 16th goal of the season and her 13th point in the last four games.

The Eagles held off a seemingly never-ending Seminoles attack for two overtime periods, surviving the onslaught with help from defender Madison Meehan. While it would have been poetic for BC to end its season on a win, a double overtime draw against a powerhouse program like Florida State is by all means a victory for BC, which finishes the regular season slotted sixth in the ACC.

It would be all too easy to declare the Eagles primed to deliver upsets during a potential postseason run—but let’s not forget that Meehan and Co. have yet to tally a win against a ranked opponent this year.

But as much as the stats wanted to bury BC in a grave on Sunday afternoon against the defending national champions, the Eagles wanted to write their own ending. Do not count them out.

Featured Image by Drew Hoo / Heights Editor

November 1, 2015