Defense Shows Off, Meehan Scores 50th, in Women’s Soccer Victory

Friday night not only brought Boston College women’s soccer a 2-0 home victory over the University of Cincinnati, but it also delivered two milestones: head coach Alison Foley’s 250th BC win and McKenzie Meehan’s 50th career goal.

Despite sloppy play from both sides in the first half, the Eagles’ (4-0-1) veritable wall of defense prevented Cincinnati (3-2-0) from getting a single shot on goal. Driven by Allyson Swaby and Samantha Hiatt, BC’s backline disrupted the rhythm of Bearcat passes time and time again, offering its offense plenty of opportunities. But the Eagles had difficulty capitalizing in the early portion of the game. A Meehan-to-Kayla Jennings exchange was shut down. Then a Jennings pass to the right side of the field found the foot of Jenna Bike, but Bike couldn’t locate the back of the net.

On the other end, Cincinnati’s Katy Couperus missed a free kick in the 17th minute, and Vanessa Gilles’s shot was blocked by a BC defender in the 20th minute. Pass accuracy emerged as a problem for both sides, as possession frequently flip-flopped.

Nevertheless, the scoring drought ended in the 42nd minute. Madison Kenny directed a through ball to Olivia Vaughn, and Vaughn’s touch was deflected by a Bearcat defender out of bounds. On the ensuing corner, goalkeeper Claudia Eustaquio fumbled the ball, and after a brief scrummage, Jade Ruiters passed it out to Berman. She found Hayley Dowd, who ripped a shot to the far corner of the goal. The assists were awarded to both Berman and Ruiters. It is the second goal of the season for the senior co-captain.

In retaliation, Cincinnati came out of halftime firing. Gilles and Jordan Cotleur both launched shots within the first five minutes of the half that served as goalkeeper Alexis Bryant’s opening challenges of the game. Just as the Bearcats began to crawl back into contention, the deficit increased.

Miscommunication from the Cincinnati defense and Eustaquio led to a tap-in goal for Meehan in the 58th minute, on assists from Berman and Hiatt. It was the 50th career goal for Meehan—who’s already BC’s all-time leading scorer—and her fourth of the season.

The redshirt senior co-captain believes that there is more to this accomplishment than simply her own work on and off the field.

“I think it’s a big honor, but I think it’s a reflection of other teams that I’ve played on while I’ve been here,” Meehan said. “Every year we have different players, but we’ve had so many other great attackers that have helped set me up and that have helped the team succeed.”

Dowd had two more chances to add to her scoring tally, once in the 67th minute and another in the 83rd minute, but neither were enough to get past Eustaquio. Cincinnati had its third and final shot on goal in the 82nd minute.

Gaby Carreiro, who had been playing physical defense all night, fighting for 50-50 balls and tackling Bearcat attackers, received a yellow card near the tail end of the match. Regardless, BC walked off the pitch still unbeaten.

The Eagles have only allowed two goals, neither of which have come in the second half, throughout the first five games of competition. Foley noted that fortifying the defense, a key component of offseason preparation, has paid off so far early in the season.

“I think as partners, we probably have two of the best center backs [Swaby and Hiatt] in the country,” Foley said. “And Alexis [Bryant] is playing really confident. When you have that triangle of two really talented center backs and a goalkeeper, it gives the team a lot of confidence.”

Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor

September 3, 2016