Women's Soccer

Eagles Perfect Start Comes to an End in Overtime Against Wake Forest

Wake Forest has a knack for playing spoiler. After all, the Demon Deacons defeated two ranked opponents—including No. 5 Penn State—and tied another in the first four weeks of the season. It was only fitting that the Demon Deacons pulled an upset to record head coach Tony da Luz’s 300th career win. Unfortunately for Boston College women’s soccer, it was the victim.

The Eagles suffered their first defeat of the season on Thursday night, falling to Wake Forest in an overtime thriller, 2-1. No. 11 BC (10-0-1, 2-1 Atlantic Coast) entered the match with a perfect record through 10 games. On the other hand, Wake Forest had seen its fair share of ups and downs prior to the matchup. Although the Demon Deacons (6-3-1, 2-1) had a couple of marquee victories on their resume, they were coming off a heartbreaking last-second loss to Notre Dame.

Thursday night’s match, originally scheduled for earlier in the season, but delayed due to Hurricane Florence, was the Eagles’ first contest outside of the Boston metro area. With two of the top goalies in the country in Alexis Bryant and Nonie Frishette, respectively, BC and Wake Forest were all but asking for a low-scoring affair. Coming into the game, Bryant boasted .867 save percentage, good for second in the ACC, and Frishette averaged close to five saves per game, the most in the ACC. The head-to-head battle did not disappoint.

Right out of the gate, BC was in total control. The Eagles dominated time of possession for the first 15 minutes of regulation. They won several corner attempts during that span—one of which translated to the first scoring play of the match. At the 11:48 mark, Sam Coffey placed a beautiful service right in front of Kayla Jennings, who converted the goal, giving BC a 1-0 lead. With such an early goal, it looked like the Eagles were on their way to yet another victory.  

But Wake Forest was quick to respond. Whereas BC controlled the ball in the beginning of the frame, the Demon Deacons flipped the script toward the end of the half. The momentum began to swing, culminating in a colossal Eagles mistake at midfield. In the 31st minute, Bayley Feist forced a turnover and launched the ball behind the BC defense. Mariah Lee, a Stanford transfer, broke into a full sprint and chased down the ball. Lee squeezed a shot through Bryant’s legs, etching her name in the scorecard.

With that equalizer, the score was tied, 1-1. BC responded with a few more corners and shots on goal, but it failed to convert. The first half came to a close, deadlocked at one goal apiece. But, even though the score was tied, it was clear that the Eagles were superior on the offensive end of the field. They outshot the Demon Deacons, 9-2, and logged five more corners than their ACC counterpart.

The pace during the second half was quite frenetic. Both teams were consistently getting good looks on goal. Despite the offensive pressure from both sides, not a single goal was allowed in the second half. While there wasn’t a change in the score, it was evident that Wake Forest had reversed course and was outplaying BC on the attack. By the end of regulation, the Demon Deacons were outshooting the Eagles, 9-8, and held a 4-3 advantage in corners. On several occasions, Wake Forest had open looks, but BC Bryant made the necessary stops to keep her team in the game.

Overtime proved to be a continuation of the same narrative from the second half. BC was outshot and eventually, the line broke. In the 97th minute, Estelle Laurier received a pass from Feist at the center of the field. Laurier propelled a shot past Bryant to score the game-winning goal and cap the comeback victory.

For most of the game, the Eagles’ stout defense held, despite relentless pressure from the Demon Deacons. But the exhaustion proved too much for the Eagles to overcome, and Wake Forest outlasted BC in the game’s final stages.

It took the Eagles more than a month to crack the United Soccer Coaches Poll, despite outscoring their first 10 opponents by a combined 22 goals. Their 2-1 win over Florida State this past weekend vaulted head coach Alison Foley and Co. into the top 15. Now on the other side of an upset, there’s no telling how far BC will drop in the rankings and, more importantly, how the team will respond to its first loss of the season.

Featured Image by Bradley Smart / Heights Editor

September 28, 2018