Before its game on Sunday, it had been 28 days since Boston College field hockey had seen the field. Following a hard-fought 2-1 loss to No. 1 Louisville on Oct. 4, the Eagles had to postpone their next five games after a member of the team tested positive for COVID-19. Due to contact tracing efforts, nine other members of the team were put in quarantine, totaling almost half of the team. After a few weeks without practice, the Eagles arrived on their home turf with snow piled up on the sides of the field and hopes of proving that they were better than their first game performance.
Wake Forest (2-4) was also recovering from a loss against the reigning NCAA champion North Carolina, and the Demon Deacons came out firing. After a very rusty first half, the Eagles (0-2) dug themselves a hole that they could not get out of, and the Deacs ended up leaving with a win. The loss granted BC a No. 7 playoff seed and brings the Eagles’ regular season record to 0-2. Meanwhile, the Deacs end the regular season with a 2-4 record following a previous win over Duke.
The Eagles entered the first quarter with fresh legs but very little gametime experience. In the first three minutes of the game, Wake Forest earned three early corners but failed to get anything past the BC netminder Jonna Kennedy. Nearing the 11th minute of the game, Wake Forest’s Nat Friedman sent a backhanded beauty into the left side of the net, earning her team’s first goal. Despite the efforts of BC defender Sky Caron, the ball remained in Eagle territory for the rest of the first quarter.
Entering the second quarter, the Deacs looked better than ever. Kennedy faced shot after shot after having a total of four saves in the entire first half. The Eagles, on the other hand, had a rusty first 30 minutes of the game, getting no shots on net.
With only four minutes remaining in the half, the Deacs put the pressure on the Eagles. After officials called a corner against BC, Wake Forest’s Anne van Hoof sent an unsavable sweeping shot to give her team a two-point lead. Meike Lanckohr and Alexis Grippo got credit for the assists. But the Demon Deacons stayed hungry, and with less than two minutes left, Lanckohr sent a bullet into the Eagles’ net, giving the Deacs a 3-0 lead at halftime.
After a rusty first half, BC entered the third quarter with momentum, putting pressure on Wake Forest goaltender Tori Glaister for the first time all game. Sophomore standout Margo Carlin earned back-to-back corners for her Eagle squad, and on the second one, BC was on the scoreboard. Carlin and Juliette Hijdra were credited with the assist, as Fusine Govaert sent the ball into Glaister’s net, cutting the deficit to two at 3-1.
“I think our best hockey was in the first five minutes of the third quarter,” BC head coach Kelly Doton said after the game. “They just have to learn how to play for 60 minutes like that and not just in spurts.”
Just as things were looking up for the Eagles, a breakaway by Wake Forest’s Abby Carpenter changed the tide of the game. Freshman Grace Delmotte deflected Carpenter’s shot into the back of the net, giving Wake Forest a 4-1 lead and crushing the Eagles’ growing momentum. Only one minute later, the Deacs added another goal as Grace Sambrook sent a blasting shot into the net, making it 5-1. Eleanor Winants was credited for the assist, and the Deacs ended the third quarter on top once again.
Despite being down 5-1, the scrappy BC team did not let up. After beautifully reading the defense, Elizabeth Warner dove toward the goal and perfectly deflected the ball into Wake Forest’s net, bringing the score to 5-2.
“It was an unbelievable goal,” Doton said. “Her anticipation and tactical knowledge was excellent. … She read that play really well and knew exactly where it was going in the circle. It was a fantastic goal on the board and really great to see.”
But soon after, the Deacs regained their composure, and Delmotte fired a shot into the back of the BC net, earning her second goal of the game to make it 6-2. The young and determined BC team did not give up, challenging the Deacs until the end and earning themselves more corners and a stroke. Despite not being able to capitalize on these efforts, BC showed tremendous tenacity and played until the last second.
“I think everyone collectively played really well for the circumstances,” Doton said. “Of course it’s not where we were last year on November 1st but I was really proud of their effort. They know the type of field hockey players they can be when we have the right amount of preparation and practice, but they stepped on the field and competed.”
The Eagles are one out of seven NCAA Division I teams playing field hockey in the country right now, and with this unprecedented season, the postseason could really go many different ways.
“Anything can happen in the ACC tournament,” Doton said. “We have a couple days to prepare and go after it, but we are just really fortunate that we get to play another game.”
Featured Image by Brent Greenberg / BC Athletics