It’s season number two at Boston College for women’s soccer head coach Jason Lowe. Hoping to bounce back from a 1-8-1 conference record (and 8-8-2 overall) and lack of a tournament appearance, Lowe said he and the Eagles are optimistic and ready to make the most out of a modified season.
BC will kick off its season in South Bend against Notre Dame on Oct. 1 and will play its first home match on Oct. 15 against Duke. With a shortened schedule this year, each of the 13 ACC teams will play eight games total—four away and four home—with the anticipation of an ACC tournament in mid-November and more non-conference games in the spring. The Eagles no doubt have their work cut out for them, as according to the ACC Preseason Coaches Poll, they are currently ranked No. 11 of 13 ACC teams.
BC is a few weeks behind its competitors after not having been able to practice in person together all summer, while other ACC teams did. According to Lowe, tri-captains Jill Jennings, Mia Karras, and Jenna Bike have had a job like no other and have worked hard to integrate the 10 new team members—eight first-years and two transfers—into the team dynamics.
With many Zoom calls, which included group workouts, the Eagles were still able to get to know each other while at home, but they only recently got to see what each new member would add on the field when they began practicing together over the past four weeks.
The Eagles’ coaching staff, with the help of fitness coach Ryan Sullivan, has committed the team to a higher caliber of fitness this season, after realizing just how tough teams have to be to make it to the ACC tournament, Lowe said. He added that the Eagles aim to put themselves in the position to be in the top half of the ACC and compete for the automatic qualifier or at-large bid for the tournament.
With the loss of one of the Eagles’ top scorers, Olivia Vaughn, Lowe said he is emphasizing the importance of strong defense and not relying on just one player. Last season, the Eagles held their own in the offensive third—scoring a total of 33 goals over the course of 18 games for an average of 1.83 goals a game—but had a much tougher time on defense, giving up 31 goals for an average of 1.72 goals per game.
This year, the Eagles have mostly a veteran crew on defense led by senior Riley Lochhead and a good mixture of returners and newcomers in the midfield—including Sam Smith and freshmen Lauren Gouvin and Sonia Walk. Smith was a 2019 All-Freshman honoree who started in all 18 games last season and scored a team-high eight goals, . Lowe said he is looking forward to using different combinations of Zoie Allen, Linda Boama, Emily Knous, and Bike up front and to seeing a powerful offense.
Starting in 16 games in goal as a freshman and finishing with a .654 save percentage, Allie Augur has had the chance to up her game in goal, according to Lowe. The Eagles also welcome goalkeeper Wiebke Willebrandt from Lippstadt, Germany, who will not be on campus this fall, as she is attending training camps for Germany’s national team with the hopes of competing in the rescheduled World Cup this coming winter.
Unlike BC men’s soccer, which will not be playing this season, the women’s team will have the chance to take the season one game at a time. Despite having an unprecedented season schedule spread out over two semesters, Lowe said the players are excited to get to their first kickoff.
“If we can get to the first game’s kick off, it will be a miracle,” he said. “It has been such a sacrifice that the players have had to make. It’s not the normal college experience: getting tested three times a week, avoiding friends. They’ve made a big social sacrifice to be able to do this.”
Featured Image by Kaitlin Meeks / Heights Senior Staff