It didn’t matter that Boston College women’s soccer changed coaches and lost its star player to another school: The Eagles have marched right along, and, with a 2-0 win over Mississippi State on Sunday, finishing unbeaten in non-conference play for the second year in a row.
Behind goals from Olivia Vaughn and Emily Langenderfer, BC (7-0-1) nabbed its first win against an SEC opponent in program history. While the Bulldogs’ (5-3) hoped to pick up their first quality victory of the year after alternating wins and losses for much of the early going, BC aimed to bounce back after drawing with Providence on Thursday night. The issue against the Friars was that the Eagles couldn’t find a go-ahead goal despite having the balance of chances, and while they had trouble putting it away in the first half against Mississippi State, the classic Eagles offense reemerged in the final 30 minutes of regulation.
In true form, BC came out with an aggressive offensive strategy. Langenfender gained possession quickly, getting a good crack on goal inside the first three minutes of the period, but the Bulldogs’ Katie Moore made a strong save to keep the score knotted at zero.
The game soon shifted to a battle of the goalkeepers, as Mississippi State’s Hailey Farrington-Bentil attempted to thread a ball over the top, but failed to find the back of the net after a save from Allie Augur. The freshman goalkeeper managed to keep the score stagnant after a sneaky attempt from Bulldogs’ forward Zakirah McGillivary just seconds later. The Eagles quickly regained control and sent the ball back into the Bulldogs’ defensive third, as Vaughn surged down the right flank and managed to get a shot off before Moore collected it from the far post.
The rest of the half mirrored that of a stalemate, as the Eagles’ deliveries into the box were consistently met by a Mississippi State defender. Despite having five corners and a 6-4 advantage in shots, BC entered the break with nothing to show for it.
It seemed as though another draw was on the horizon at the start of the second half, as several efforts from defender-turned-forward Gianna Mitchell came up just short. Despite getting her head on an early corner, Mitchell’s attempt went wide left. Moments later, the junior found herself inches from scoring, getting a shot off in the box, only to have it bounce off the post.
It wasn’t until midway through the half that the Eagles put an end to the scoring drought. Following a corner kick in the 67th minute, Vaughn ran onto a ball from Jillian Jennings, slotting it home with a right-footed shot between Moore and the right post to hoist the Eagles to a 1-0 lead, all while tallying her 50th career point. Mississippi State’s Makayla Waldner looked for a response, sending a dangerous shot to bottom center, but Augur came up clutch again.
It took the Eagles nine minutes to find the back of the net again, as Langenderfer managed to clean up a rebound from Francesca Venezia’s shot seconds prior, putting BC out of striking distance with a 2-0 advantage. The win marked Augar’s third shutout of the season and the Eagles’ seventh win overall heading into rigorous ACC play.
Although BC has seen an excellent start to the season, despite losing several key players last year, it must couple this aggressive offensive effort with an equal ability to finish the job in the box. Making the most of chances and avoiding frustrating overtime like the Providence draw is likely what head coach Jason Lowe is stressing before the difficult conference slate arrives.
Prior to this meeting, the Eagles were ranked 18th in the TopDrawerSoccer poll and were receiving votes in the United Soccer Coaches Association Poll as well. Should they exhibit the same cohesive effort they showed in the last half of this game, they could continue to replicate last year’s impressive run to the NCAA Tournament.
Featured Image by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor