Coffey, Bike Lead Eagles Past Northeastern

Boston College women’s soccer extended its winning streak to three games on Sunday afternoon with a 2-1 victory over Northeastern. The score makes the match sound a lot closer than it actually was. The Eagles could have just as easily recorded a three-goal shutout, had it not been for a missed penalty kick and an empty-net goal in the 90th minute.

For the third game in a row, BC (4-2) controlled the match and box score from start to finish. It was only a matter of time before head coach Alison Foley’s group broke away from the Huskies (4-2).

Due to precipitation and wet field conditions, it took a bit for both teams to get a feel for the ball. As a result, the first couple of minutes of play consisted of possession swapping. But by the fifth minute, the game was in full swing.

Right around midfield, Northeastern’s Kerri Zerfoss sent a through ball to Valent Soares Gache, who then proceed to find Kayla Cappuzzo deep down the left side of the field. The Husky forward crossed the ball into the box, leading to a scrum inside of the 18, and eventually a Northeastern corner. From the flag, Hannah Lopiccolo teed up a perfect ball to Zerfoss. The sophomore headed the feed into the net, but Eagles goalkeeper Alexis Bryant batted the ball over the crossbar with one hand, making the save.

Northeastern wouldn’t get another look on goal like that for the rest of the half.

About 10 minutes later, BC countered with a scoring opportunity of its own. Freshman Mijke Roelfsema delivered a beautiful pass to Jenna Bike on the left side of the pitch. The sophomore brought the ball down and sped inside the box. But before she could even whip up a shot, she took a tumble. Fortunately for Bike, there were more scoring chances to come.

Approaching the 20th minute, Carly Leipzig dribbled the ball toward the left corner of the field. Eying a cutting Bike, Leipzig booted the ball into the heart of the box. Bike got a piece of it, but Northeastern goalie Nathalie Nidetch was there for the stop. Then, in the 32nd minute, freshman Sam Coffey stole the ball near the centerline. Once again, Bike was wide open on the left. Coffey put the ball on the money, Bike received the pass, and flew past her defender. But she took one too many touches. By the time she wound up to take the shot, she didn’t have an angle on net. Inevitably, Bike’s near-post strike hit the side of the net.

Just one minute later, the Eagles came within inches of scoring. But this time it wasn’t Bike leading the charge. Lining the perimeter of the 18, Lauren Berman fired a shot, but it was blocked. Olivia Vaughn—who came off the bench for the first time this season—corralled the rebound and quickly rattled off a close-range shot. The ball bounced back and Vaughn gave it another go, but her second attempt was saved.

Entering halftime, BC had taken six more corners than the Huskies, and more importantly, had outshot them 11-2. Still, as far as the score was concerned, the two teams were even.

Northeastern came out of the break rejuvenated. Less than a minute into the second half, Lopiccolo sent a line-drive pass to Carly Wilhelm inside the box, giving Bryant and Co. a scare. But the ball just missed Wilhelm’s cleat, costing the Huskies a potential goal. Shortly after, Northeastern stole a Kayla Jennings pass and instantly pushed the ball into the left corner of the field. Cappuzzo crossed the ball to a leaping Lopiccolo, but Bryant diffused the situation by hauling in the header.

Long overdue, BC finally put the ball in the back of the net in the 51st minute. Coffey gathered a loose ball at the top of the box and scored a 17-yard strike with her left foot. The Eagles didn’t stop there.

A minute and a half later, Bike scored her team-leading fourth goal of the season off a Coffey corner—one of the Eagles’ 16 on the day, a season high. Nidetch couldn’t bring down the corner, and the ball ricocheted off of BC’s Madison Kenny, within feet of the net. Bike was in the right place at the right time. She shoveled the ball into the goal to put the Eagles up 2-0.

Northeastern was helpless on offense, in large part because of the much improved play of BC’s backline. With the inclusion of a now-healthy Kenny, BC was able to rotate its four defenders. Whenever the Huskies appeared to be making a run, either Kenny, Roelfsema, Gianna Mitchell, Allyson Swaby, or Elysa Virella was there to stop them in their tracks.

With all of the momentum on its side, the Eagles kept on the attack. In the 85th minute, Olivia Vaughn blew by her defender on the right side of the box. The sophomore cut inside, but before she could do anything else, was fouled, and BC was gifted a penalty kick. Instead of having Vaughn take it, Foley called on Jennings to try her hand at Nidetch. But the redshirt sophomore’s shot went wide right.

The Eagles were seconds away from their first back-to-back shutout of 2017. All of a sudden, that stat disappeared. In the 90th minute, Northeastern played a ball in front of the net for Hannah Rosenblatt. Instinctively, Bryant came out of the net, but she misplayed the ball, allowing Rosenblatt an open shot on goal.

Regardless of the score, a win’s a win for Foley. In her mind, when BC is playing Northeastern or any of the Boston schools, the Eagles have a target on their back.   

“We talk about being the best of Boston,” Foley said. “But we know that’s not easy. Northeastern’s a tournament team. Harvard’s a tournament team. And BU’s a tournament team. And we’re the ones they all want to beat.”

Lately, BC has been the best. After Sunday’s match, the Eagles are now 9-1 against Northeastern, Harvard, and BU since 2014.

Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor

September 3, 2017