Protecting a one-goal lead over visiting Stony Brook, Boston College women’s soccer came out a little hesitant in the second half of a hot, humid match. With plenty of subs on both sides, the Eagles were missing connections in the midfield, had conceded a pair of corner kicks, and hadn’t picked up a real scoring chance since the first eight minutes of play. Then, as soon as it looked like the Seawolves were finally primed to equalize, it was over.
BC’s dangerous forwards, who’d spent much of the game probing for seams in the Stony Brook back line, took turns finding them—and eventually found paydirt. Olivia Vaughn slipped through the field and drew a red card on Seawolves defender Allyson Baner, who held her from behind, and just four minutes later, the Eagles tacked on two insurance goals to secure the 3-0 shutout win—BC’s fifth in a row to start the year and fourth consecutive clean sheet.
The foul on Vaughn, who scored the game’s first goal, set up a free kick for Sam Coffey from beyond the 18-yard box. Coffey, who had tried to go through the Stony Brook (2-3) wall earlier in the half to no avail, opted to unleash a rocket that slammed off the inside back post, a deafening clang that reflected the slim chance anyone had at stopping it. The final punctuation mark for the Eagles (5-0) came via the sophomore midfielder just two minutes later, as her corner kick from the near side took a favorable deflection and found the head of teammate Gianna Mitchell on the far side of the post.
“Obviously, it’s a tough break for them but a good break for us,” BC head coach Alison Foley said about Baner’s card. “To add insult to injury, Sam [Coffey] steps up and bangs one off the back post. It doesn’t get any worse than that—it’s a momentum changer.”
The win, preserving a perfect month of August for Foley’s team, was marked by the poor weather conditions. With highs of 96 degrees in the area and the “feels like” temperature soaring past 100 degrees, school officials decided to push the start time back two hours, to 7 p.m., while additionally featuring two water breaks throughout.
The temperature at game time was still a muggy 85, though, and the benches were emptied on both sides. Foley opted for nine players off the bench, while her counterpart in Brendan Faherty needed 12—he was additionally hampered with the red-carded defender and lost his starting keeper to an injury in the 82nd minute.
“It’s hot, so you almost can’t think straight, let alone run,” Foley said. “We just talked about breaking it into three 15-minute spans in the first half, then get people in and out so they didn’t have to think ‘oh my god, I’m exhausted’ the full 90 minutes. We were hoping to get a few goals in so we could get some people in and rest a few for Saturday.”
Vaughn scored in the eighth minute, but BC failed to log a second goal until almost an hour of game time later. This resulted in occasional pressure on the Eagles’ back line with the added importance of keeping the Seawolves off the board, ultimately forcing the duo of Kayla Duran and Mitchell to play the entire game. The pair, combined with a seasoned goaltender behind them in Alexis Bryant, were called upon at key moments—Mitchell had an impressive slide tackle down the right sideline, Duran headed away a corner kick attempt, and Bryant made her lone save in the first period.
Coupled with outside backs like Rachel Newborough, Erin Convery, and Elysa Virella, the BC back line is a formidable group. Foley stressed the way the group has returned to the program’s roots of building from the back, and the Mitchell-Duran combination is one that will make ACC play—against elite offenses—a little easier.
“We talk a lot about scoring goals, but I said in the locker room before, ‘I love the fact that we have three shutouts in a row—let’s go get another one,’” Foley said. “That’s grit and determination. It’s what BC was built on, defending, and I think this group has that mentality.”
With Vaughn, Mitchell, and Coffey all sitting on four goals apiece, and the likes of Gaby Carreiro and Jenna Bike equally explosive up top, having a strong defense to lean on is a luxury for Foley. Through five games, the Eagles boast a +13 goal differential. Last year at this point? Just +5, and they’d conceded at least one goal in all but one game.
Featured Image by Bradley Smart / Heights Editor