In 2018, Boston College women’s soccer took on Northeastern and narrowly escaped with a 1-0 victory, needing a 76th minute game-winner from then-sophomore Gianna Mitchell off a corner kick to break a scoreless deadlock.
On Thursday evening, history repeated itself. The Eagles and Huskies met, and in a matter similar to longtime rivals, scrapped to a 0-0 scoreline at halftime. Then, three minutes into the second half, it was Mitchell again. The junior—earning time off the bench at forward instead of center back as she works her way back from an ACL injury—headed the ball off a deflection into a wide-open net in the 48th minute, handing BC a 1-0 win.
“I left her in to start the second half because honestly just thought maybe we’d get a corner kick and a goal that way,” head coach Jason Lowe said. “It landed on her head, and usually good things happen when she’s heading the ball.”
Mitchell’s finish provided a sigh of relief for the Eagles (5-0), who struggled to generate many chances throughout the game. The same could be said about visiting Northeastern (2-2), which had several looks on long balls and crosses but failed to put a shot on target. It resulted in BC goaltender Allie Augur posting her second clean sheet since winning the starting job three games ago, boosted by a stout defensive line in front of her.
The story of the match wasn’t Mitchell’s goal, though, it was the non-calls and physical spats that referee Jason Pelletier opted to leave uncalled. Both teams had plays in which they should’ve seen a player issued a yellow card, but Pelletier’s hand never strayed from his pocket. Lowe and Huskies head coach Ashley Phillips were both furious, even yelling in tandem after one play between BC’s Olivia Vaughn and Northeastern’s Julianne Ross in the second half.
The game only devolved as the time ticked off, especially out of the break in the second half. Vaughn was dragged down in the box at one point, much to the chagrin of Lowe, then Phillips was stunned when BC’s Francesca Venezia soared through the air and collided with defender Eve Goulet. After the game, Phillips couldn’t be bothered to shake Pelletier’s hand in the postgame line.
“It’s a shame,” Lowe said of the increase in physical plays as the game went on. “It’s two really good teams and I think both teams were trying to play. It’s a shame that it devolved to that point. I’m proud of our girls for sticking to the game plan and staying focused and not losing sight of everything.”
BC’s decision-making in the final third was questionable for the duration of the first half. Passes were misplaced or rushed, and the team settled for shots from distance or in crowded spaces that were blocked. Lowe was audibly frustrated, as it wasn’t until the 42nd minute that the Eagles created a real goal-scoring chance. Gaby Carreiro gathered the ball along the left flank, sent a low cross in, and Mitchell—who entered the match in the 31st minute—saw her left-footed shot veer just wide. Carreiro had a shot on goal from distance earlier, but it, like many first-half efforts, wasn’t much trouble for Northeastern’s Angeline Friel.
The second half was much of the same for the Eagles, who struggled to build up an attack against Northeastern. BC was doing just fine on the other end, with Mia Karras and Riley Lochhead holding down the wings while Allyson Moore and Michela Agresti anchored the middle. Lochhead actually created the lone goal, breaking up the left wing and taking it to the touch line before lifting a cross into the box. Friel punched it out, but it went straight to an uncovered Mitchell, who calmly headed it into the net for the eventual game winner.
Moore and Agresti’s play in the middle continued to impress Lowe, as did Augur—who came out on several crosses and directed traffic well.
“Second shutout for them—they were bummed that they didn’t get one last game and we talked about that,” Lowe said. “Their communication is continuing to improve. Allie has done a great job there and I know they’re really proud of the shutout.”
It was far from a pretty win for BC, but it followed last year’s trend. In that match, it was similarly physical and a “grind it out” victory, and the Eagles proceeded to win their next nine non-conference games. Lowe was pleased that his team stayed the course, and while there are plenty of little things to adjust, BC is in the same spot it was last year at 5-0 and should soon start to make some noise in the national polls.
Featured Image by Kaitlin Meeks / Heights Editor