For the first 40 minutes of Boston College women’s soccer’s battle with Clemson on Sunday, an uninformed spectator would not have been able to guess which team was ranked substantially higher. BC had allowed zero shots on goal and tied Clemson’s total of one attempted shot. For a moment, it seemed like the Eagles were going to make it to the half without conceding a goal to the Tigers’ formidable offense.
The goal that BC’s stellar defense would result in a scoreless first half from Clemson perished when Mackenzie Duff adeptly headed a corner kick from Dani Davis into the back of the net. Suddenly, the team that had kept the Tigers at bay for several possessions found itself in a deficit. While the Eagles had many bright spots in their play before and after this crucial moment, BC was never able to bridge the gap Duff’s goal caused.
No. 8 Clemson (8–1–2, 2–1 Atlantic Coast) defeated BC (3–6–2, 0–3) by a final score of 2–0 on Sunday afternoon. Both of Clemson’s goals were created and scored by the same duo, with Davis registering two assists and Duff notching two goals.
Although Duff’s brace was enough to give Clemson the win, Sunday’s standoff didn’t feel like a thoroughly dominant performance for the Tigers. Clemson registered just three accurate shots and scored both of its goals due to excellent corner kick execution—not breakaway opportunities or precise ball movement.
“Our team executed the Sunday game plan to a tee,” BC head coach Jason Lowe said. “We wanted to take away all their chances in the run of play, and they didn’t get anything in the run of play. Two corner kicks is what beat us.”
Lowe stressed the importance of limiting major opportunities before Sunday’s game, and from the Eagles’ style of play, it was clear that his emphasis manifested on the field. For the first several minutes of the contest, both teams played slowly and methodically, ensuring that the ball was protected and moved around with great consideration. While each side got the occasional opportunity in its opposition’s half, it wasn’t until an Eagles’ corner in the 12th minute that anything notable happened offensively.
Although BC failed to capitalize on its first of three corner kicks, the underdog Eagles appeared to be setting the tone early on. Clemson responded to BC’s efficient defense with elite defensive play of its own and counterbalanced its successful tackles and interceptions. One of these included a 14:21 Jenna Tobia shot that rocketed over BC goalkeeper Wiebke Willebrandt’s outstretched glove and into the crossbar, narrowly missing the goal.
Still, even with increased Clemson pressure, the Eagles showed defensive resilience. In the 28th minute, BC forward Emily Sapienza shielded the ball from an incoming Tigers forward, impressively making a physical but legal tackle. For the majority of the first half, the Eagles seemed to be sticking to the game plan, playing with patience and sound judgment.
“We’ve got smart BC kids,” Lowe said. “We threw a lot at them yesterday, and they did such a good job of studying.”
Although conceding late in the first half dampened the fire the Eagles ignited on its home turf, BC got right back to playing stellar defense for the game’s subsequent 45 minutes. In the 49th minute, Willebrandt saved a shot on goal by Clemson forward Tatum Short. In the 72nd minute, the Eagles turned a stellar defensive possession into a quick offensive opportunity that forward Sydney Segalla nearly scored on. Segalla took a bit too strong of a touch in the Tigers’ box, however, and allowed the ball to roll out of bounds.
It wasn’t until 81:38 when the Eagles conceded a second goal, which mirrored Clemson’s first goal in nearly every aspect. Davis rifled a ball in from the corner that connected first with Duff’s head and then the back of the net, provoking a joyous uproar from the Tigers’ bench.
“That’s the first two corners we’ve given up for goals in a long time,” Lowe said. “We’ve normally done a good job, but obviously they have some pretty good targets.”
Although the game concluded with no accurate shots from the Eagles on just two shots attempted, the Eagles may have drawn with the No. 8 squad in the nation if not for a particular lapse that occurred twice.
“They kept the game tight,” Lowe said. “We were playing the No. 8 team in the country and didn’t want it to be a track meet. I think they feel like they got away with one today.”