Sports, Fall, Field Hockey

Eagles’ Comeback Bid Falls Short in Loss to No. 1 North Carolina

Coming off a two-game losing streak including a thrilling double overtime loss to Albany on Oct. 2, No. 16 Boston College field hockey had an uphill battle ahead of them after being down 3–0 to No. 1 North Carolina at halftime. 

The Eagles (5–7, 2–2 Atlantic Coast) had a strong second half and scored three goals in a fight to come back in the game, but the undefeated Tar Heels (10–0, 3–0) held on for the win, defeating BC 4–3.

North Carolina immediately started pressuring BC. A shot from Tar Heel forward Erin Matson in the 48th second of play constituted North Carolina’s first real chance, but it landed just wide.

The Tar Heels scored each of their first three goals in the first half on penalty corners. On the first goal nine minutes into the game, Ashley Sessa put the ball in the back of the net to give the Tar Heels a 1–0 lead. 

The second goal by midfielder Jasmina Smolenaars was deflected off a BC defender into the net three minutes into the second quarter to increase North Carolina’s lead. Midfielder Ryleigh Heck deflected a pass from Smolenaars into the net on the fourth penalty corner for the Tar Heels to make the score 3–0 with just under six minutes remaining in the half.

North Carolina controlled possession in the first half. The Eagles had some offensive chances, but spent a lot of time defending the Tar Heels’ attack. Toward the end of the first half BC started to gain some momentum, taking more shots and generating stronger offensive opportunities.

The Eagles started the second half by quickly earning their third and fourth penalty corners of the game. A shot by forward Margo Carlin went just over the net. A pass up the field following a stoppage in play resulted in a goal for BC forward Kara Heck in the 35th minute to bring the score to 3–1.

BC kept the momentum going after midfielder Peyton Hale cleared away a shot by North Carolina during its fifth penalty corner. As the second half rolled on, the Eagles were controlling possession for large stretches and getting more offensive chances. A BC shot that went over the net brought its shot tally up to nine, even with the Tar Heels despite being outshot seven to four in the first half.

Carlin got called for a card, giving North Carolina a man advantage for two minutes. The Eagles maintained possession for most of the penalty and continued to attack on offense even though they were down a player.

In the fourth quarter, BC and the Tar Heels went back and forth on offense, with both teams having multiple opportunities to score. BC got a penalty corner, but the shot by Hale was deflected wide. The Eagles continued to maintain possession and take shots. Typically North Carolina has a lot more shots than its opponents, but BC battled throughout the second half and ended up outshooting the Tar Heels 20–15 for the game.

On the sixth penalty corner of the game for the Eagles, a shot by Johnson was stopped in front of the net, but the ball wasn’t cleared. Heck drove the ball into the back of the net for her second goal of the game, bringing BC within one goal with 10 minutes left.

North Carolina started to put more pressure on the BC defense, increasing its possession and shots. The Tar Heels extended their lead to 4-2 in the 53rd minute after the ball became loose in front of the net and Matson shot the ball to score her 14th goal of the season.

The Tar Heels continued to bring the heat, intercepting the ball on a bad pass by the Eagles and nearly resulting in the second goal of the game for Matson.

BC got three straight penalty corners, but was unable to convert on any of its chances in front of the net. Despite missing these opportunities, the Eagles were awarded a penalty stroke, which Hale buried into the top left corner to bring the score to 4–3 with 2:24 left in the game.

Just when it was starting to look like the Eagles might complete their comeback by evening the score, Carlin got her second card of the game. BC had to finish the rest of the game down a player, allowing North Carolina to control the possession and waste time off the clock. The Eagles had a few chances in the final minute, but ultimately were unable to score another goal.

October 9, 2022