Sports, Fall, Women's Soccer

Willebrandt’s Strong Performance Not Enough as Duke Coasts Past BC

In honor of Welles Crowther, BC ’99, Boston College women’s soccer’s goalkeeper Wiebke Willebrandt was selected to wear the honorary No. 19 jersey in the Red Bandanna Game against No. 15 Duke. According to BC head coach Jason Lowe, no one deserved it more.

“If you’ve met [Willebrandt] she embodies everything about Red Bandanna and just selfless service,” Lowe said. “She’s a positive light to everybody that she meets on campus and it’s just incredible to see the mark she’s made here at BC.” 

Willebrandt registered a season-high seven saves and limited Duke to two goals. The junior is now the program’s fifth all-time leader in saves with 190.

But under the glaring sun in Newton, Mass., BC (3–4–2, 0–1 Atlantic Coast) struggled to keep up against the physical play of the Blue Devils (5–2–0, 1–0), taking just three shots, a season low, to Duke’s 19, and falling 2–0. 

The game marked both squads first ACC game of the season.

Duke wasted no time, opening the scoring in the third minute of the game when Carina Lageyre slid between BC defenders and blasted the ball over Willebrandt and into the top of the net to go ahead 1–0.

But the Eagles responded less than 30 seconds later, taking their first shot of the game. It was an Emily Sapienza low hit, but Duke’s Leah Freeman got in front of the ball.

In the 15th minute, the Eagles enjoyed a rare spell of possession, but could not find space to generate a shot—a common theme throughout the game. Duke almost went up by two about 12 minutes later, but the Blue Devils were called for offsides.

The match started to slip away in the 31st minute when Duke doubled its lead. Devin Lynch slid the ball off a scramble into the left side of the goal past the outstretched Willebrandt for the score.

Willebrandt notched an excellent save in the 40th minute to prevent any more damage. She slid to deny the oncoming run of Julia Saunicheva, keeping Duke’s lead at two. But BC couldn’t muster anything offensively, continually struggling to clear the ball. The Blue Devils dominated contested balls all game and were aggressive in sending in crosses.

“There was certainly a lot of space to be able to play and some more things we could’ve shown today,” Lowe said. “I think it’s a learning moment for us. We have to have more patience in transition when we win the ball back—rushed things too much, didn’t have enough composure around the box. We just got to be better in those moments.”

BC’s best chance to cut into the lead came off a counterattack in the 71st minute. Aislin Streicek fought off several Duke defenders in the box, turned, and hit a powerful low shot to the left corner that Freeman saved on a dive.

Duke never let up, registering 11 shots in the second half. But Willebrandt stood strong, especially when she prevented Duke’s Kat Rader’s rocket from 20 yards out with nine minutes left in the game.

“Overall, I think we responded pretty well,” Lowe said. “We stuck to our game plan defensively. I think we didn’t give them too many chances. Second half we had a little bit better performance, but you know, I think the two early goals—certainly can’t give those up in ACC play—put us on the back foot a bit.” 

September 17, 2023