At this point, you might as well give Boston College field hockey forward Margo Carlin the ACC Rookie of the Year award.
On Friday night, with the No. 13 Eagles tied with No. 15 Syracuse in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, Carlin—who had the team’s lone goal of the night—found herself in the perfect spot to score after teammate Brigid Wood delivered her a pass in front of net. Carlin made no mistake, making a slick move before tucking home the eventual game-winner with 3:55 on the clock as BC escaped with a 2-1 win, its fifth in a row.
Carlin’s two-goal effort was enough to hand the Orange (8-5, 1-3) its third straight loss. The Eagles (9-5, 3-1), meanwhile, continue to soar since starting the year just 4-5. During its five-game winning streak, BC has outscored its opponents, 13-1, and beaten three ranked foes. Carlin has played a big role in that, as she’s now tallied nine goals during that span to raise her season total to 17—a mark that’s only three behind the reigning ACC Offensive Player of the Year in North Carolina’s Erin Matson and eighth in BC single-season program history.
Syracuse had taken the last five meetings with BC and held a decisive 24-10 edge in the all-time series, but it was clear from the beginning that this was going to be a back-and-forth affair. The first half was defined by strong defense and minimal chances, with the Eagles managing the lone shot on goal. BC also suffered some bad luck, though, as both Jaime Natale and Sky Caron had shots hit the post in the span of 30 seconds.
Six minutes into the third quarter, Carlin—who saw a shot that she hit out of midair go wide in the first half—broke through for the Eagles. Natale set her up beautifully, dribbling in on goal and withstanding a challenge from Syracuse’s Claire Webb to send the pass ahead to Carlin. Orange goaltender Sarah Sinck had come out to cut off the shot, but Natale’s pass got through and Carlin one-timed it for an easy finish.
The Eagles were unable to close out the third quarter smoothly, however, as Syracuse’s Claire Cooke scored with just 16 seconds on the clock. The late goal drew an immediate comparison to BC’s last loss back on Sept. 26 against No. 11 Saint Joseph’s. In that matchup, a 5-4 loss, the Eagles gave up goals in the final minute of three separate quarters.
But that kind of breakdown wouldn’t haunt BC this time around. In a fourth quarter that seemed like it could’ve gone either way, Syracuse had a costly green card called on Caroline Hoffman with just under five-and-a-half minutes left in the game. The Eagles didn’t waste the man advantage, as a little over a minute later, they broke through. Wood, who dribbled the ball out of the defense, sent a pass ahead to Carlin, who found herself in front of Sinck. Carlin settled it, beat Sinck with a move to the goalie’s left, and buried it in the back of the cage.
It was a clutch finish and another green card on Syracuse’s SJ Quigley in the final minutes killed any chance at an equalizer for the visitors. While its scoreless streak of 297-plus minutes came to an end, BC played almost impeccable defense and was able to lock down the Orange’s biggest scoring threat in freshman Charlotte de Vries, who entered with 13 goals. Devries managed two shots the whole game but neither found their way on frame in the loss.
At this point, the Eagles have completely rewritten the story of their season as head coach Kelly Doton is now poised for her first season with an above-.500 mark in conference play. The start of the year was defined by ups and downs, as they strung together a three-game winning streak but also lost two and three in a row. Now, winners of five straight—against a group of quality opponents nonetheless—BC enters a non-conference game against New Hampshire with an abundance of confidence. Should it win that, the Eagles will take 10 wins into huge matchups with No. 1 North Carolina and No. 4 Duke. Those games will have both big ACC standings and NCAA tournament implications, which says wonders about how quick the team has turned things around.
Featured Image by Leo Wang / For The Heights