For 25 days, Boston College women’s soccer went without a goal.
But BC (5–5–3, 1–4–0 Atlantic Coast) put a halt to that streak during Thursday’s match against Syracuse (8–5–0, 1–4–0), defeating the Orange 1–0. The victory marked the end of a six-match winless skid, and many of those games came against top teams in the conference.
“We were playing against four of the best teams in the country the last few games, and we knew we were going to be defending a lot, so I think it was good to know going into this game that we were going to get some chances,” BC head coach Jason Lowe said.
The Orange were quicker in the early stages, pressing heavily and winning the majority of 50-50 balls. The Eagles looked a step behind and were noticeably uncomfortable, frequently giving away possession in their defensive half.
“Our strategy was to keep the ball over time,” Lowe said. “We knew that they were going to press early, but if we maintained the ball and made them chase, they were going to wear down.”
This pressure and energy translated into lots of possession time and scoring opportunities for Syracuse, which focused its attack on testing BC’s back line through the air. Orange center backs Grace Gillard and Jenna Tivnan were at the center of the effort to put pressure on BC’s defense.
But in the 24th minute, the momentum shifted. BC forward Andi Barth lofted a harmless ball toward the goal. Syracuse goalkeeper Shea Vanderbosch appeared to handle it easily until she inexplicably lost control of the ball. The ball fell directly to the feet of Claire Mensi, who tapped it in to put BC ahead 1–0, snapping the Eagles’ four-match goalless streak.
“Claire was fantastic being in the right spot when we had the opportunity there,” Lowe said.
The goal gave the Eagles a jolt of energy they had been lacking, but Syracuse kept its foot on the pedal. The Orange had several dangerous corner kicks in the closing 15 minutes of the half, one of which generated a shot that sailed just wide of the post.
The Eagles had many opportunities to extend their lead in the second half. Midfielder Riley Kerber came off the bench to create scoring threats off of a few crisp combination plays in the attacking third. This sustained pressure culminated in the 60th minute with a Sonia Walk shot from the center of the 18-yard box that floated just over the crossbar.
“She’s come a long way,” Lowe said of Kerber. “I think she wants to make an impact in every game, and she’s got a really bright future for us.”
The teams traded chances in the final 20 minutes of the match, and the intensity ratcheted up. Despite a flurry of Syracuse counterattacks, the Eagles continued to maintain control of play.
“Our league has a way of leveling things out, and our schedule was hard on the front end. [For] some other schools, it’s going to be really hard on the back end, and we just gotta keep grinding for points,” Lowe said. “Three points out of every game is huge.”