As the clock ticked down, Boston College field hockey was just seconds away from a narrow, one-goal victory—its fifth straight win to open the season. Just as the Eagles looked to seal it, play came to a halt with just 8.8 seconds remaining. Officials awarded Connecticut a penalty corner, putting the Eagles on the brink of an absolutely crushing blow. But as they had all day long, goaltender Jonna Kennedy and the Eagles’ defense stood tall, and the horn sounded, keeping the Eagles’ unbeaten season alive.
“The players did a really great job of withdrawing that pressure to come out with one,” BC head coach Kelly Doton said.
After a thrilling final few minutes of play, the No. 3 Eagles (5–0) defeated the No. 12 Huskies (2–3) by a score of 2–1, marking the Eagles’ best start since 2010.
The Huskies came out of the gate strong and broke the ice just three minutes into the game. On UConn’s first corner attempt, Sophia Ugo batted a rebound out of mid air and into the back of the cage to put UConn out in front. BC netminder Kennedy made a dazzling glove save on the initial shot, but she couldn’t quite get back in position to save Ugo’s rebound shot.
Even though it put the Eagles down a goal, UConn’s tally actually seemed to wake up the lethal BC offense. The Eagles generated chance after chance, as they looked to even the score in the first quarter. UConn netminder Cheyenne Sprecher denied a handful of shots, and the Eagles rang one off the post as well.
It took until the final minute of the opening quarter for the Eagles to break through. Veteran forward Jaime Natale ripped a shot from far out that found its way through congestion in front of the net to beat Sprecher and level the score. It appeared the shot may have been redirected in front of the traffic, but Natale received the credit for her third goal of the season. It was a long time coming for BC, who outshot UConn 7–2 in the first 15 minutes.
Both teams settled in defensively in the second quarter, as they combined for just four shots, keeping the score tied at a goal apiece heading into the halftime break. Similarly to the second quarter, both teams garnered a handful of chances in the third quarter, but neither could prevail.
The fourth quarter was the decider for the Eagles. Both teams traded chances on penalty corners, but both goaltenders stood tall for the majority of the frame.
With just four minutes left in the game, BC leading scorer Milagros Arteta struck yet again, lacing a slap shot into the back of the net that sent the Newton crowd into a frenzy. Her fifth goal of the season gave BC its first lead of the day and was the go-ahead to victory.
Following Arteta’s goal, the Huskies pulled their goaltender for an extra attacker, putting great pressure on the BC defense. The Eagles fought off UConn’s one-man advantage and a late opportunity on a corner to hold on for their ninth straight win, dating back to a victory over UMass on April 7, 2020.
After such an uncertain year amid the COVID-19 pandemic that saw the Eagles abnormally play both a fall and a spring season, Doton and her team are finally back in a rhythm.
“These guys really missed this experience,” Doton said. “They had a preseason. They put the work in all summer. The season is still young, as it’s just one game, but where they are, they’re great, and hopefully this is a kind of roll that will keep on going.”
Featured Image by Aditya Rao / Heights Staff