Fall, Women's Soccer

Eagles Upset in First Round, Fall to Hofstra at Home

Boston College women’s soccer took 28 shots to Hofstra’s six in Friday night’s NCAA Tournament opener, and doubled it up in shots on goal by an 8-4 margin. The other difference between the two teams, though, was that the Pride made the most of their minimal opportunities—and the Eagles didn’t.

All four of Hofstra’s shots on frame found their way in, paving the way for a surprising 4-1 upset of fourth-seeded BC in a game that was played two hours earlier than previously scheduled in an attempt to avoid the worst of a heavy rainstorm headed toward Boston.

The loss, the Eagles’ (14-5-1, 6-3-1 Atlantic Coast) fourth in their last five games, was a disappointing final entry in a season that had displayed so much promise through the first three-quarters. Prior to a 1-0 setback in North Carolina, BC was 13-1-1 and looked the part of a College Cup contender. After tough one-goal losses to the Tar Heels, Duke, and Clemson, the Eagles entered the postseason trying to shake off the late slide, but missed chances, poor execution on defense, and an impressive performance from the Pride (16-5-1, 6-2-1 Colonial Athletic Association) sophomore duo of Lucy Porter and Sabrina Bryan was enough to send them home for the offseason.

“We didn’t take care of our opportunities,” head coach Alison Foley said after the game. “You can’t outshoot someone 28-6 and score one goal. We certainly had enough chances to make the score line look differently but we didn’t.”

Bryan scored twice, Porter had a goal and an assist, and Hofstra pulled off one of its biggest wins in school history to advance to the second round for a chance to play either Memphis or Wisconsin. BC, meanwhile, was left searching for answers. Midfielder Sam Coffey, who failed to put a shot on goal in the loss, stood gazing out at the field for several minutes after players were packed up and leaving despite the rain picking up. Even Foley was at a loss for words, simply surprised at how her team had played in its biggest game of the year.

“Our back line has done great all year,” she said. “If somebody said, ‘Do you think anybody in the country is going to score four goals on you?’ I would’ve said ‘no.’ It’s a tough one.”

The game was locked in a scoreless draw through the first 18 minutes, and that’s when the first blow against the Eagles’ chances to advance was struck. This year, the bulk of BC women’s soccer scoring came from two sources—Coffey and Olivia Vaughn combined for 21 of the Eagles 43 goals, just shy of 50 percent. If you look at shots, however, a third player emerges as a consistent threat, and that’s speedy right wing Jenna Bike.

In the early going, Vaughn was struggling to catch up to long balls and Coffey was largely contained—but the third option in BC’s attack was running free against Hofstra. Bike, utilizing her speed, streaked across the field, right to left, and put a pair of quality left-footed shots on net that forced Pride goaltender Jenna Borresen into a tough near post save each time.

Then, with the Eagles pressing forward again, things backfired. Bike, streaking after a long through ball, collided with Borresen, who had come sprinting a good 10 to 15 yards out of her box as the last line of defense. Both players went down and stayed down, with Bike—favoring her right leg—needing Foley and an assistant to help carry her off. Borresen returned to the goal, but she too needed a substitute just a few minutes later, coming up lame and skipping off for teammate Ashley Wilson.

Wilson would turn away five shots in relief, fulling stepping up, and it was quickly clear which team suffered the greater loss. BC’s offense stagnated with Bike out, and it proved to be just enough time for the Pride to strike. Seven minutes after Bike exited, Hofstra’s first real look on net was successful—Porter backheeled a shot past an unassuming Alexis Bryant when it took a fortuitous bounce.

Taken aback, the Eagles managed just two more shots on net before the break. While that number would leap in the second half, BC still was misfiring at seemingly every turn. Eventually, the Pride got another look, and didn’t skip a beat—Bryan scored with a clinical finish. After Jillian Jennings turned the ball over to Porter around midfield, the sophomore took several dribbles, then played a ball to Bryan—who caught up to it and deftly poked it over an exposed Bryant.

A similar goal would come five minutes later, when the Eagles reliably stout defense was exposed by Bryan. The sophomore caught up to a long through ball in the right corner, slipped past Elysa Virella and Mijke Roelfsema easily, and lifted a chip shot over Bryant—fooled once again—for a decisive third goal.

Vaughn would answer quickly, with an impressive right-footed volley after a feed from Gaby Carreiro, but it was too little, too late. Bryan’s second goal was a clear nail in the coffin, and while BC was resilient enough to put more pressure on Wilson and the Hofstra back line, anchored by Madeline Anderson, the outcome wasn’t in doubt past the 70th minute. The icing on the cake for the Pride was Lucy Shepherd’s 83rd minute insurance goal, as the substitute finished off a well-executed set piece from Jordan Littleboy for the final margin.

“We had enough early chances had we jumped on them early, it would have been all over, but we didn’t,” Foley said. “We knew if we let this team hang around, you’re playing into their hands.”

Play into their hands, they did. BC wasn’t able to contain the two players it needed to the most on the opposing end, and Foley’s side paid the price. Despite piling up 28 shots, a plethora of them were blocked, deflected wide, or simply soared far from net. The final 10 minutes were likely painful for Coffey & Co., as the optimism around the team after a program-best start to the year finally wore off. The Eagles will return plenty in 2019, but, as Foley said, her team simply didn’t make the most of their chances—and that’ll take quite a lot of time to wear off.

Featured Image by Jonathan Ye / Heights Staff

November 9, 2018