An hour into Boston College women’s soccer’s Sunday afternoon match against Temple, the Eagles owned a two-goal lead, having already weathered a handful of Owls chances, and looked well on their way to a seventh-consecutive shutout. Just when it looked like BC was going to ride the second half out to another decisive victory, one long ball led to trouble and something the Eagles haven’t been familiar with lately: a goal conceded.
BC could have collapsed mentally, but instead, relying on the tenacity that has been one of its best traits this season, it conjured quite the response, answering the Temple goal with two of its own in the final 15 minutes, en route to an emphatic 4-1 win.
From the opening kickoff, the Eagles were intent on controlling the game. Jenna Bike had two excellent looks at goal in the first 10 minutes. The former was blocked, and the second—after a scramble in the box—was saved by Owls goalkeeper Jordan Nash. Temple was having trouble stringing together passes in the midfield, and two giveaways led to shots from Sam Coffey—whose drive was saved by Nash—and Gaby Carreiro, who blazed one over the cage.
The Eagles continued to pressure the Temple back line, forcing three-straight corners, all of which the Owls managed to clear. Desperate to shift momentum, Temple became more physical, committing four-consecutive fouls. Unfortunately for the Owls, the last of these was in the box, and led to a penalty kick opportunity for the Eagles.
For much of the season, Coffey has been the offensive catalyst for BC, driving attacks forwards with well-placed passes and providing pinpoint service on set pieces. Thus, it was no surprise when she stepped up to take the spot kick for the Eagles. And as has become the norm, she made no mistake, burying her kick past a diving Nash to give the Eagles the lead.
Five minutes later, the lead was two, and the goal came off what is rapidly becoming a trademark BC corner kick. With Gianna Mitchell on the goal line crowding the keeper, Coffey’s service was again perfect, this time finding the head of Kayla Jennings. The junior midfielder made no mistake with her header, emphatically slamming it into the back of the net.
The second goal seemed to wake Temple up a bit. First, a loose ball off a scuffle at the top of the box saw Jules Blank create the Owls’ first shooting chance of the day, but a crowd of Eagles defenders blocked the ball before it could reach goalkeeper Alexis Bryant. Seconds later, a misplaced pass from Riley Lochhead gifted Kerri McGinley with a look on net from a tough angle, but she missed wide.
The Owls’ momentum carried over into the second half. Just three minutes into the period, McGinley found Bella Sorrentino open in the box after a long ball forward, but Sorrentino pushed her effort wide of the near post. BC’s attempts to turn the tide came from the right wing, with Jenna Bike providing an attacking presence thanks to her speed. She was able to win a pair of corners, one of which drew a save from Nash, and her perimeter threat was able to open up the heart of the field. Coffey, Carreiro, and Jennings found space to get shots away, but all three of their efforts missed the target. And before the Eagles could get back on the attack, the Owls scored their lone goal.
A long ball over the top took an awkward bounce and both McGinley and Bryant elevated to vie for possession. The resulting collision saw the ball drop rather fortunately at McGinley’s feet, and she curled her shot into an open goal, halving the Eagles lead and giving Temple a spark as cries for a foul from the BC bench went unanswered.
Foul or not, the goal was something preventable to Eagles head coach Alison Foley.
“It’s a little bit disappointing because I thought that goal that they scored was in our control,” the longtime coach said. “Whether or not they bumped the keeper doesn’t really matter, it was a midfield breakdown.”
What BC could control, however, was its response. Immediately following the scoring play, Temple upped the intensity, flying into tackles and beginning to string some passes together. The Eagles needed some kind of energizer, and it was the backline led by Mitchell and Kayla Duran who kept the Owls at bay long enough for BC to create scoring chances of their own. When the chances did come, it was the wide players—dangerous in one on one situations all day—in the middle of the action.
In the 77th minute, the ball was played wide to Riley Lochhead, whose driven cross found the feet of Carly Leipzig. Her initial attempt was blocked as she fell to the turf, but she kept with it, climbing back to her feet and scrambling the rebound into the bottom corner to restore the Eagles’ two-goal cushion.
Just nine minutes later, fancy footwork from Carreiro allowed her to easily beat the defender marking her and send another dangerous ball towards the near post. This time it was Olivia Vaughn, fresh on the field for Leipzig, who got on the end of it, finding the bottom corner again with her effort and giving BC the exclamation point on its eighth-consecutive win.
Foley was equally impressed with the wing players. “It gives you tons of confidence with the type of pace we have with our starters and the next three coming off the bench. We can just create so many chances. It definitely builds confidence in the group.”
With conference play looming, BC’s wide attacking threats will have to keep impressing for the Eagles to continue to win games. Against the ACC, defense—no matter how stellar—isn’t enough to ensure success.
Featured Image by Celine Lim / Heights Editor