Last winter, Boston College women’s soccer saw its leading scorer, Sam Coffey, transfer to Penn State. Then, in the leadup to the 2019 campaign, the Eagles lost Jenna Bike and Kayla Duran—two other players who were expected to be key pieces of their attack—to season-ending injuries. Needless to say, there were some questions about how a new look BC offense, led by freshman Sam Smith, would gel.
Four games into the year, Smith has done her best to answer those questions in the best way possible—with a flurry of goals, four to be exact. She started the season by scoring a game-winner against Massachusetts, then followed that up with another tally against Massachusetts Lowell. Sunday, in the Eagles’ first road test of the year against Princeton, Smith once again proved to be a difference maker in the offensive third.
In the span of three minutes, the freshman recorded a pair of first-half goals against the Tigers. Those two scoring plays were enough for BC, which beat Princeton, 2-1, to stay perfect through four games on the season.
The game started quickly, with both teams creating space and shooting chances. First, Madison Curry and Tomi Kennedy saw attempts fly over the bar for the Tigers (1-1), before Smith skipped a shot past the left post. Eagles (4-0) goaltender Allie Augur, who moved to 3-0 on the season and finished with two saves in the win, did well to stop another attempt from Kennedy before BC was finally able to break the deadlock through Smith.
The Eagles won the first corner kick of the match in the 31st minute, and Mia Karras delivered a cross into the box. The initial pass was cleared, but BC managed to maintain possession, and eventually Emily Langenderfer controlled the ball just outside of the box on the right wing. The senior chipped a pass toward the net, where Smith was making a run. Smith made no mistake, hammering a one-time left-footed shot past TIgers goaltender Natalie Grossi to give the Eagles a 1-0 advantage.
Just three minutes later, BC had its second goal of the game. Riley Lochhead—who has impressed as the Eagles’ starting left back early in the year—made a run down the left wing, before playing a centering pass to the top of the six-yard box. Smith was once again in the right place at the right time, finding the back of the cage for the second time with her left foot to double BC’s lead. The three-minute brace marked the first time a freshman has scored two goals in a game for the Eagles since Olivia Vaughn, now a senior, did in 2016.
Princeton would strike back just before the break, winning a left-sided corner. The Tigers’ Lucy Richardson was able to win the initial ball, sending a header toward the net that Augur was able to save. The rebound bounced around the box, and after Kennedy saw a back-heeled follow-up attempt also blocked by a scrambling Sydney Moore, Caroline Noonan was finally able to poke the ball across the line to cut Princeton’s deficit in half.
The late goal could have given the Tigers momentum heading out of the break, but instead it was the Eagles who had the better chances to score early in the second half. Jade Ruiters and Gaby Carreiro both saw efforts blocked by scrambling Princeton defenders, before Grossi smothered another shot from Ruiters. It looked like a third goal was coming, but BC’s offensive momentum was quickly killed when it went down to 10 players.
Ruiters picked up a yellow card in the seventh minute and, in the 73rd minute, was awarded a second one, forcing the Eagles to play a player down for the final 17 minutes of the game. Nevertheless, BC’s defense held strong in the waning minutes of regulation. Augur rushed off her line to deny a potential game-tying shot, and Abby Givens sailed a shot over the bar in the final moments of the contest to preserve the victory for the Eagles.
With the win, BC now has a road test under its belt, in addition to three confidence-boosting wins over in-state opponents. While there are clearly bigger opponents down the line, a seamless start to the Jason Lowe era will certainly build confidence. Lowe will be especially pleased with the play of his freshmen, from Smith and Augur to Moore and Michela Agresti, who were once again composed defensively, as the Tigers pushed for a late-game equalizer. If those four can maintain that level of play throughout the season, the Eagles should be in good shape for the remainder of 2019 and beyond.
Featured Image by Kaitlin Meeks / Heights Senior Staff