NC State Beats BC With Last-Minute Strike

Boston College women’s soccer traveled to Raleigh, N.C., to take on No. 23 North Carolina State with quite a bit of confidence on Thursday evening. The Eagles were coming off three straight shutouts against Boston University, St. John’s, and Louisville, a stretch during which they outscored their opponents by a total of 6-0.

But they couldn’t keep the Wolfpack off the board, as a last-minute belter from star forward Tziarra King was enough to stun BC, 1-0. This game, the team’s second in the ACC, was of crucial importance as it looked to build momentum going into the meat of conference play.

NC State (8-1-1, 1-0-1 Atlantic Coast) entered the match on a hot streak of its own, unbeaten in its previous five games with four wins and a draw. Reigning ACC Defensive Player of the Week Sydney Wooten excelled in between the pipes for the Wolfpack, securing her fifth shutout of the season. Up top, NC State boasts one of the best strikers in the country in King, who leads the ACC with seven goals.

The first half of the game was rather uneventful, with most of the action taking place in the middle third of the pitch. Neither team wanted to concede early, both holding rigid back lines that didn’t allow for a lot for creativity on the respective offensive ends. The Eagles (7-4-0, 1-1-0) were content to let the Wolfpack play the ball around the back, not implementing a high press at all during the first 45 minutes, which allowed them more possession. NC State didn’t do much with this possession however, opting to mostly play over the top through balls, none of which found their targets. The action picked up briefly with 30 minutes left to play in the first half, when BC forward Lauren Berman was taken down in the box, but no call was given.

The game continued rather monotonously with both defenses holding firm for the remainder of the first half until, with about a minute and a half left, Eagles winger Riley Lochhead managed to beat her defender and put herself in a dangerous situation right before the whistle. She tried to pull the ball back for a teammate, but the strong defense of the Wolfpack didn’t break, and they cleared the ball to end the half unscathed.

The second 45 minutes gave the crowd more action than the first, as both teams looked to press higher up the field and force a mistake. BC came out of the halftime break more aggressively than the Wolfpack, dominating possession for the first 15 minutes of the second half. A bit of controversy came with 30 minutes left in the game when Carly Leipzig beat defender Lulu Guttengerger, but was pulled back with no one in front of her. A shout from the BC travelling support came up as some shouted for a red card, but the referee decided the infraction was only worthy of a yellow. The ensuing free kick didn’t materialize for the Eagles and the Wolfpack cleared the ball.

After that, it was all NC State. The Eagles went back to their gameplan of the first half which was trying to send long balls up to their forwards, and they didn’t amount to anything. This time, though, the Wolfpack managed to make something of their possession advantage. They launched attack after attack against the Eagles’ defense, which prompted two fantastic saves by keeper Alexis Bryant. King especially showed off her skills in one instance with five minutes left to play with a sublime turn that left a BC defender in the dust. But Bryant once again managed to make a great kick save that kept her team in the game.

King would break the BC faithful’s hearts however, with an absolute strike from at least 30 yards out with 47 seconds left to play. King received the ball at midfield and danced past two defenders before having a look up and seeing all the room she had in front of her. She let one loose and the ball sailed past Bryant, who could do absolutely nothing as the ball landed in the top left corner of the goal and ruffled the back of the net. King was mobbed by her teammates at midfield as the Wolfpack fans cheered on their star. The Eagles’ desperate attempt at a last-minute equalizer failed and the game ended 1-0 in favor of NC State.

It’s especially disappointing for the Eagles, as the game was fairly even on the stat sheet. NC State had more possession, but the corner kick count and shot count were fairly even. BC outshot NC State 6-5, while the Wolfpack led in corners 2-1. There is no stat, however, that measures a star player, and King was certainly that for the Wolfpack.

Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor

September 21, 2017