Boston College field hockey goalkeeper Sarah Dwyer only recorded one save in the first half of Sunday’s game against Harvard. But over the course of the next 65 minutes, she would nearly tie her career mark.
The sophomore notched four saves in the second half alone, forcing overtime. Then, she added three more in extra time. And to top it all off, Dwyer stopped four of the Crimson’s five penalty shots, sealing the Eagles’ 2-1 shootout victory.
The New Jersey native’s eight-save performance was second only to her nine-save outing in Chapel Hill, N.C. earlier this year—but not according to head coach Kelly Doton.
“[Dwyer] played the best game I’ve seen her play all year, and we needed it,” Doton said.
No. 13 Harvard (9-3, 3-0 Ivy League) was all over No. 8 BC (9-5, 0-5 Atlantic Coast) on the counterattack. The Eagles dominated possession, but when Harvard got the ball, it threatened on the offensive end. The Crimson outshot BC 19-14, and had the edge in the corner battle, 10-5.
Early on in the game, both teams were much more lethal in their attacking efforts. BC capitalized 17 minutes into the first half on its second corner. Alesandra Miller whipped the ball to fellow midfielder Chelcie Mendonca, who laid it off to Carly Kauffman. She made no mistake from the top of the circle to grab her second goal of the year, giving the Eagles a 1-0 lead.
That wouldn’t last long. A block and a save three minutes later initially kept Harvard off the board, but on the ensuing corner Hannah Pearce struck from the top of the circle for her sixth of the year. Ellie Cookson and Casey Allen were credited with the assists.
From then on, BC’s offense ran through players like Miller, who finished with two shots. But the Eagles struggled to actually put the ball on net. At the half, the game remained tied, 1-1.
In the latter portion of play, Harvard began to find more success on offense. BC’s runs downfield made it vulnerable at the back, and the Crimson forced corners off the counter attack, including one just five minutes into the half. The ensuing attempt required an excellent save from Dwyer and a clearance off the line by two Eagle defenders on the rebound.
BC pressured Harvard goalkeeper Libby Manela, who was fearless on defense. Manela often left the cage to kick the ball away from Eagles attackers before they could set up a shot. But one of those attempted clearances created a scoring chance for BC, about 51 minutes into the game. Yet Manela dove to her right and paddled the ball away. Her efforts kept the game tied. Eventually, the Crimson seized momentum with 10 minutes to go.
In the closing minutes, Harvard owned the possession battle. The Crimson got one more good look on goal prior to the end of regulation. But Allen’s shot trickled just wide of the net.
Because Alyssa Olenick was booked for a foul at the end of the second half, the Eagles were a man down for the first five minutes of overtime. BC’s defense held on, but not before Dwyer was tested on the break. In a one-on-one with Harvard’s Bente van Viljmen, the sophomore lunged for the ball, clearing it out of the circle.
The teams were still scoreless after the first overtime period. But in the second overtime frame, Harvard got its chance to complete the upset. Approaching the 91-minute mark, Dwyer went down again to try the same move in the circle to end a goal scoring chance, but this time she was called for a penalty. Fortunately for BC, Harvard’s Olivia Allin’s penalty stroke was directed right at Dwyer, and the ball dribbled away harmlessly.
The Eagles created one more scoring chance before the end of the period. Miller rushed up the Crimson flank, and crossed the ball into the heart of the field. Fusine Govaert redirected the shot toward goal, but the ball flew wide of the cage. After 100 minutes of play, the game was still knotted up at one.
Dwyer had already saved one penalty stroke, so the Eagles must have felt good going into the shootout, and it showed. Forward Caroline McGovern got things going for the Eagles. She used some nifty hands to get the ball by Harvard’s Manela. Then Dwyer stepped into the cage and denied Pearce—the Crimson’s lone goalscorer—easily.
Frederique Haverhals was up next. But the junior rung a shot off the post, keeping Harvard alive. Then, the Crimson’s Mimi Tarrant scored the equalizer. But that was the last time Dwyer would be beat.
Eagle Jaime Natale found the back of the cage for what would be the game-winner, and Dwyer was hardly challenged by Harvard’s Cookson.
Even though Lucy Lyte failed to convert on BC’s final penalty shot, Dwyer held off Allen to finish off the Crimson, an effort that perfectly encapsulated a double-overtime battle, dominated by the two goaltenders.
Doton knew the win—BC’s fifth against a ranked opponent this season—was crucial.
“We still have some work to do,” she said, “but you know what, at this time of the season a win’s a win, and we needed it.”
Featured Image by Celine Lim / Heights Staff