On Friday night, Boston College field hockey opened up league play against No. 18 Wake Forest. The 17th-ranked Eagles have yet to finish above .500 in the ACC under fifth-year head coach Kelly Doton, but in a similar manner to last year, started the six-game slate on the right track.
Backed by goals from freshman Margo Carlin and senior Brigid Wood, BC goaltender Jonna Kennedy turned in her first clean sheet of the season and the Eagles won their third straight game, dispatching the Demon Deacons, 2-0.
The first conference game for both squads proved to be a hotly contested match between the two ranked schools, much like last year’s 4-3 win for the Eagles (4-3, 1-0 Atlantic Coast). Both teams gave up plays downfield that led to penalty corners and scoring chances. In the end though, BC used goals in the second and third quarters and held off Wake Forest (1-5, 0-1) on the road with a clutch conference shutout.
Surprisingly, the first quarter of the game ended with no score by either team. It seemed that one of the two conference rivals would be able to put a shot in the cage, given the fast-paced nature of the game. Turnovers, however, were the Achilles’ heel for both squads early on. Wake Forest repeatedly drove the ball deep into BC territory but couldn’t capitalize.
BC’s defense in the midfield was solid, generating turnovers and starting breaks going the other way, yet the back line struggled to clear the ball at times. Defenders Sky Caron and Emily Buttinger also allowed long passes to get behind them on several occasions, leading to a few scoring chances and penalty corners. Nevertheless, Kennedy bailed them out, making several saves in transition and one spectacular stop off a penalty corner. Wake Forest forward Kelsey Gill snuck a shot past her defender off a set play and Kennedy reacted just in time to tip the ball out of bounds.
BC’s defensive pressure in the midfield picked up in the second quarter, and the team was rewarded with some good offensive chances because of it. Carlin and Darcy Clemin constantly hounded Wake Forest players with the ball, allowing teammates to pick off errant passes and force some attempts out of bounds. Once BC had the ball, it seemed as though it could move it at will in the second quarter.
The Demon Deacons’ defense was caught off guard on multiple occasions, including the penalty which led to BC’s only goal of the first half. Charlotte Von Huelsen gained possession off a cross-field pass and immediately went for a shot, catching Wake Forest defender Anne Van Hoof in an illegal position. The first attempt off BC’s corner play was redirected to the top of the circle and eventually, through some crisp passing, found Wood in front of the cage for a score. BC held the lead going into the half, 1-0.
The Eagles’ tempo carried over into the second half as well. This time, Doton’s side put their foot on the gas and didn’t let up. BC’s star freshman and leading scorer—Carlin—netted her seventh goal of the season in transition with multiple Wake Forest defenders out of position. The Eagles managed to muster two more penalty corners in the third quarter after that, but the Demon Deacons’ defense managed to hang on and clear the ball back downfield. The rest of the game was an up-tempo stalemate, showing the weakness of both defenses on more than one occasion. Although many long passes seemed to penetrate into the circle on both ends of the field, no scores were recorded by either team the rest of the way.
While Wake Forest has limped to a single win in six tries this year, BC has reasons to be confident moving forward. The Eagles are riding a three-game win streak and, even though they look sluggish at times on defense, their speed on the offensive end and ability to take over games in the midfield is something to keep other ACC teams wary. The path doesn’t get easier from here: BC hosts No. 8 Louisville and No. 14 Saint Joseph’s this coming weekend, with the two teams boasting a combined 11-2 record.
Featured Image by Bridget Clark / Heights Staff