Sports, Fall, Women's Soccer

Eagles Notch First Shutout of Season, Maintain Perfect Start with Win Over BU

Under first-year head coach Jason Lowe, Boston College women’s soccer has already displayed a tendency to come out of the gate strong. In each of the first two games under Lowe, the Eagles tallied within the first 10 minutes. It’s a habit and mentality, apparently, that was inspired at least partly by the United States women’s national team—who notably scored in the first 12 minutes of six of their seven games en route to winning the World Cup this past summer. 

“It’s funny, we were talking about the national team.” Lowe said after the game. “We talked about how that [scoring early] really put teams on the back foot. I don’t know, maybe a little bit of that rubbed off.”

Thursday against crosstown rival Boston University, BC made it three games in a row with an early goal. 

With nine minutes played, the Eagles won a corner after a long ball in the direction of Gaby Carreiro was knocked out. The initial cross into the box was cleared, but a high press from BC held the ball in. Eventually, a headed pass found Carreiro just above the left corner of the box. The senior winger took some time to settle it at her feet, before freezing Terriers right back Anna Heilferty and cutting inside. After taking a touch toward the middle of the field, Carreiro unleashed a fierce curling shot that snuck inside the right post to give BC the early lead. The Eagles never looked back from there, beating BU, 3-0. 

The goal seemed to give BC (3-0), which had already looked sharp in the early going, even more confidence. The Eagles’ passing was crisp, and their aggressive pressing was causing the Terriers problems. Mia Karras and Riley Lochhead, the BC fullbacks, also flew forward every chance they got, and it was their running that indirectly created the Eagles’ second goal. 

Lochhead carried the ball down the sideline, but saw her cross blocked out for a throw in. On the resulting throw, Carreiro gained possession and whipped a cross into the box. The pass found the foot of Jade Ruiters, who was lurking inside the 18 unmarked, and the redshirt junior made the most of the opportunity. Her left-footed effort found the back of the net to double BC’s advantage. 

When BU did manage to gain possession, it often looked to exploit the Eagles’ pressing, sending through balls into the channel or over the top in an attempt to beat the high line. It led to a couple chances, as BC goaltender Allie Augur flew out of her net to stonewall Anna Heilferty on a breakaway, and then moved to her left to smother the follow up from Jenna Oldham. 

For the most part, though, the Eagles continued to win the possession battle—and the chances. Sam Smith skied an effort over the bar from the right side of the box, and Olivia Vaughn repeated the act just a minute later. Gaby Carreiro kept on terrorizing the Terriers’ right-sided defenders with her direct running and dribbling, and also saw a long-range shot fly high. All in all, BC looked dangerous every time it got the ball out on the wing. 

“It’s super dangerous because you can’t really mark one player,” Lowe said about the threat his outside midfielders provide. “You really have to defend both sides of the field, and both of them are excellent finishers.”  

BU won two corners in the final 20 minutes of the half, but BC’s defense, led by freshman center backs Sydney Moore and Michela Agresti, held strong, not allowing the Terriers a clear chance as the teams went into the break with the Eagles still leading, 2-0. 

In the second half, the frantic offensive pressure that BC had applied in the opening 20 minutes tailed off a bit, as both teams struggled to create meaningful space in the offensive third. An early through ball aimed in the direction of Sam Smith was snuffed out by BU goaltender Morgan Messner, and balls into the box from Carreiro and Vaughn couldn’t find an Eagle foot. 

The Terriers, however, were even less active on the offensive end, managing just one total shot in the back half of play and failing to string together many passes at all. The lack of BU attack meant BC had the luxury of taking its time to create a third goal, and when they finally did, it was worth the wait. 

With 18 minutes to play, Gianna Mitchell—a centre back-turned-striker who was just recently cleared for game action after suffering an ACL injury at the end of the 2018 season—subbed in. Two minutes later, she latched onto a ball in the box and used her strength to hold off a defender before firing off a left-footed shot that snuck inside the near post. It was a fantastic moment for the junior, who is certainly not unfamiliar with finding the back of the net. In 2018, she recorded five goals, the third-most on the team.

From there, the Eagles cruised. Augur watched a free kick from Kelly Park sail over the bar with three minutes left as BC closed out a 3-0 victory in style. 

Lowe and the Eagles couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season. They are perfect through three games, with the wins all coming over in-state rivals. Under Lowe, BC looks dynamic in the final third, especially with Vaughn and Carreiro on the wings, and the defense received a confidence boost with its first clean sheet of the season. 

“Especially when you have a freshman goalkeeper and two freshman centre backs, for them to get that first clean sheet is something they talked about a lot,” Lowe mentioned after the game. “I was happy that they were able to play 90 minutes and get it.” 

The schedule will certainly get tougher from here on out. But with a young defense that is constantly learning, and an attack that seems reinvigorated despite the departure of Sam Coffey and injuries to Jenna Bike and Kayla Duran, the Eagles already seem to be pointed in the right direction—and Lowe is a big part of that success.   

Featured Image by Kaitlin Meeks / Heights Senior Staff

August 30, 2019