Fall, Women's Soccer

Coffey, Mitchell Pace Eagles to Convincing Win Over Albany

It took just 12 minutes for Albany to realize just how dangerous Boston College women’s soccer midfielder Sam Coffey really is. The sophomore found herself with the ball, alone, 25 yards from the visiting Great Danes’ goal. She took one touch and unleashed a low, diving shot that sliced into the bottom left corner.

Advantage, hosts.

Three assists later, two to rising offensive star Gianna Mitchell, and Coffey’s Eagles were putting the finishing touches on a four-goal first half en route to a convincing 5-0 win on Thursday afternoon, the day after weather had forced the move of the scheduled match.

Mitchell, four days removed from heading in the decisive game-winner against Northeastern, continued to exert herself in the opposing team’s penalty box. The sophomore defender, who turned in a 90-minute effort to secure the shutout, headed in a corner and another long-range feed from the left sideline—both goals coming within a five-minute span.

“I would assume people didn’t think she had that type of range from there but no, nobody can leave her open,” BC (3-0) head coach Alison Foley said afterward. “When you have someone like Sam Coffey—we told G[ianna Mitchell], she should have 10 goals off of Sam’s corners because she puts it on her head basically.”

“Credit to both of them, you have to have someone who can serve like that and someone who’s courageous with their head.”

Olivia Vaughn and Carly Leipzig both scored for the Eagles while Alexis Bryant and Maddie Murphy split time in net for the combined shutout of the Great Danes (2-1). BC, perfect through three games, is off to its best start since 2012—a year that resulted in a 12-6-3 regular season mark alongside an appearance in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

The convincing win came without a captain and key piece—Kayla Jennings left in the sixth minute, heavily favoring her right leg. Her replacement, Jade Ruiters, played admirably off the bench. The redshirt sophomore, who spent a great deal of her freshman campaign in the starting lineup, played 54 quality minutes.

She had her hand in the last goal of the game, slotting a well-timed through ball to the sliding feet of Leipzig, a fellow substitute who netted her first of the season. The assist, the first of the year for Ruiters, was a meaningful moment—if the Eagles can see her continue to step into a key midfield role, the offense will only improve.

Other bench pieces played well, with Murphy notably taking over in net at the break and appearing, by all means, to have stood in the cage for years. The freshman had a good handle of her teammates in the back—surely boosted by the tough trio of Mitchell, Rachel Newborough, and Kayla Duran—and cleared away the few chances Albany could come up with. Even though much of the game was one-sided, Foley was impressed with how her backup keeper performed. The longtime coach was also clearly pleased with having Bryant, a seasoned veteran, and an up-and-coming starter in Murphy, ready in the wings.

“In games like this, it’s not so much shots but balls over the top and decisions to make,” she said. “You have to communicate or deal with a flurry in front of the goal. Those are really big goalkeeper moments and I thought she did incredibly well coming off her line and reading the game.”

Much of the Eagles’ second half was shaky, at least offensively. With plenty of new players making appearances—12 came off the bench—the early jitters were evident. Still, the defense hunkered down and flashes of potential came through at times. The Ruiters feed to Leipzig was one, as was a strong long ball from Emily Langenderfer. The clearest sign of a cohesive attack, though, came when Coffey returned for a six-minute span. She immediately created several scoring chances—hitting the side of the net on a corner kick, missing a free kick high and wide to the left, and forcing a save on another shot.

Still, even without Coffey, the depth Foley has to work with was evident. Losing a key midfielder at the six-minute mark could spell offensive dysfunction for many teams, but Ruiters stepped in and others picked up the slack to cruise to the win. The Eagles have several proven weapons on offense—Coffey’s ability to switch the field and set up teammates from anywhere on the pitch is well advertised, but Vaughn’s speed and Mitchell’s ball-hawking tendencies within the 18 are two more strengths that have BC smiling about its potential through three games.

Featured Image by Bradley Smart / Heights Editor

August 24, 2018

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