This time last season, Boston College field hockey suffered a heartbreaker, falling in double overtime to Northwestern in the annual B1G/ACC Cup. This year, the No. 13 Eagles hoped to leave Evanstown, Ill., having defeated the No. 15 Wildcats, who sat within striking distance of BC in the national rankings. With the ACC being far and away the best field hockey conference in the country—every school is ranked inside the national Top 20—the Eagles had much to prove once they touched down in Big Ten territory.
After falling to No. 2 Maryland on Friday night, the Eagles redirected their attention to the most winnable game of the weekend—a relatively even matchup with Northwestern. Despite leading through the third quarter, BC ultimately let this one slip, conceding two goals in the final seven minutes of the game to lose, 3-2.
Despite an impressive showing on defense, the Eagles (1-3) struggled offensively in the circle, letting the Wildcats (3-2) come from behind to hand them a similar fate to last year.
It became immediately clear how evenly matched the programs were, as the first quarter mirrored that of a stalemate. BC came out aggressively with three shots on goal in the first three minutes, but neither team could gain enough leverage to tip the score. That was until Northwestern’s Bente Baekers found a way to navigate the Eagles’ nearly impenetrable defensive structure, sending the Wildcats’ first shot attempt to the back of the cage. Freshman Margo Carlin had a quick response for BC, though, burying one of her own with a second to go in the frame to knot the score at 1-1.
Despite this surge by BC to end the first quarter, both teams face scoring difficulties in the second. While the Eagles found themselves twice inside the circle, the Wildcats consistently had an answer. Thus the game shifted to a battle of the defenses, as the Eagles held Northwestern to zero shots in the second frame to keep the score stagnant.
The drought didn’t last for long, as BC immediately gained possession in the third quarter and began taking risks on offense. Fusine Govaert quickly recovered a blocked shot by Brigid Wood and whipped one into the cage, hoisting the Eagles to their first lead of the game. Holding the Wildcats to three shots the rest of the quarter, it appeared as if BC was poised to rewrite history.
That was until the fourth and final quarter, where the previously unstoppable Eagles defense began to fray. The Wildcats drew two corners, with Peyton Halsey capitalizing on the second to notch the equalizer. Less than a minute later, her teammate, Lily Katzman, capitalized on a blocked shot, lifting her team to a one-goal lead in a matter of 29 seconds. Forcing two corners in the final minute of regulation, the Eagles still found no luck on the attack and ultimately conceded the game to end a stiff road test in Illinois.
While the Eagles led the Wildcats considerably in shots (17-9), their inability to find the back of the cage came back to haunt them in the final minutes of the game. Despite a rocky start to the season, BC’s depth bodes well for the program as it enters a less challenging phase of its schedule with back-to-back non-conference games against Dartmouth and Northeastern. The NCAA Tournament is still firmly within reach should the Eagles regain momentum from this three-game slide before conference play begins.
Featured Image by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor