When Wiebke Willebrandt sprawled out to save a Samantha DeGuzman shot in the second half of Boston College women’s soccer’s match against Virginia Tech on Thursday and barely connected with the ball with her fingertips, the “game of inches” precedent certainly rang true.
It turned out to be a game of feet as Natalie Mitchell scored the eventual game winner for the Hokies just a few minutes later from nearly 30 feet out.
Virginia Tech (4–3–3, 1–1–0 Atlantic Coast) defeated the Eagles (3–5–2, 0–2–0) by a score of 2–1 thanks to a brace from Mitchell in the 70th minute and a lock-down performance by goalkeeper Alia Skinner. Skinner finished with three saves.
“I think the backline just did a really good job of communicating and when their players run offsides, just staying organized,” BC head coach Jason Lowe said. “I think they did a great job, you know, two unlucky goals, but I thought they played really really well overall.”
Just 5:43 into the game, the Hokies notched the first goal of the match to go up 1–0. Emma Pelkowski took the ball down the left side and crossed it into the box. A perfectly lofted pass landed right on the foot of Mitchell, who was standing feet away from BC netminder Willebrandt. Willebrandt tried to sprawl out and block the shot, but Mitchell was too close in on goal and she put the ball home.
The Eagles responded just eight minutes later when Ella Richards scored her fourth goal of the season. Richards dribbled into the box and got an angle on net, which she took advantage of. Her shot came just within reach of Skinner, but the scorcher became too hard for Skinner to handle, going off both of the goalkeeper’s hands and into the back of the net.
After the early fireworks, the rest of the first half didn’t see any action in terms of scoring. A hard tackle by the Hokies’ Averi Visage at the 19:25 mark booked the defender for the rest of the game with a yellow card, but the most consequential fouls of the half were committed by BC.
Sydney Segalla committed a foul at the edge of the box, and the Virginia Tech sideline pleaded for a penalty. The referees granted a free kick to the Hokies instead. They elected to take an outswinging cross that Anna Weir settled. Weir got a shot on frame but Willebrandt was up to the task, leaving the score at 1–1 going into half.
“She was way more confident than she was against Duke,” Lowe said of Willebrandt. “You saw it in her, just coming out collecting balls and then punching crosses. Distribution was good, so, I mean, I can’t fault [Willebrandt] anything. She was rock solid. We wouldn’t be in that game if it wasn’t for her.”
Willebrandt made an unbelievable save to try to keep the game knotted at one when DeGuzman fired a rising shot that looked like it had a chance to give the Hokies the lead. But the tips of Willebrandt’s fingers deflected the shot off the crossbar and over the net, producing a highlight play for the netminder.
Nevertheless, the Hokies eventually broke the tie when Mitchell caught Willebrandt off her line and chipped the ball into the net from nearly 30 yards deep.
“I knew the game was gonna reset at halftime,” Lowe said. “We had really good momentum going in the first half. I think they changed their tactics a little bit and tried to turn it into a track meet. I think we weren’t able to possess as much as we were in the first half. We just didn’t adjust as well as I thought we needed to.”