Sports, Fall, Women's Soccer

Richards’ Dominance Continues as Eagles Tie Wake Forest

Racing down the left side of the field after an out-of-bounds deflection, Boston College women’s soccer’s Emily Sapienza prepared for a corner kick. Staring into the box with immense concentration, Sapienza took a breath and fired a ball into the penalty box, where Bella Douglas patiently stood on the right post.

Upon descent of the pass, Douglas lowered her stance and headed the ball toward the net, and Ella Richards tapped it past Wake Forest’s goalkeeper, Payton Cahill, to record her third goal in four games.

“Especially on the road, we talked about the importance of set pieces and corner kicks in particular,” BC head coach Jason Lowe said. “So I was really happy to see us cashing in off of a corner early on especially.”

The goal gave BC (3–9–4, 0–6–2 Atlantic Coast) an early advantage in the 19th minute on Thursday night in Spry Stadium. But despite an Eagles defensive clinic, Wake Forest (8–2–5, 2–2–4)  bounced back in the second half, and the match ended in a 1–1 draw.

The draw marks BC’s second tie in a row and furthers its winless streak to eight games.

At the beginning of the game, both teams started out at a standstill. BC had a slight edge in possession after 15 minutes but could not breach Wake Forest’s back line to enter the final third of the field. The Demon Deacons, however, passed the ball poorly, allowing BC to intercept and retain possession. 

The narrative shifted in the 18th minute when Richards intercepted a pass and proceeded to make another pass into the box to find forward Aislin Streicek. Streicek shot a streamer with her right foot that Cahill saved on the left side of the net. 

Cahill, however, could not handle the ball as it rolled out of bounds, which set up the corner that gave BC its 1–0 lead. 

The Eagles continued to attack by winning second balls, outworking Wake Forest’s defense, and passing into the gaps. This continued to give Richards opportunities to increase BC’s lead. 

Richards now has seven goals on the season, one away from tying her career high in 2021.

“She has a great knack for being in the right place at the right time and can finish in a lot of different ways and just find a way to get the ball in the back of the net,” Lowe said.

The Demon Deacons slowed this surge toward the end of the half, generating chances of their own with substitute Nikayla Small hitting the top post in the 34th minute, nearly equalizing the score. But BC held on to enter the half with its 1–0 lead intact.

In the second half, Wake Forest came out firing with high energy and a sense of urgency. The Demon Deacons registered eight shots in the second half compared to three in the first.

In the 50th minute, what at first looked like a pass into the box from Anna Swanson on the right side of the field ended up trickling into the left corner of the net past BC’s goalkeeper, Wiebke Willebrandt, to knot the game at 1–1. 

“When you’re on the road, game is tied, there’s part of you that wants to go for it and there’s part of you that must be smart, not give it away,” Lowe said. 

But from that point on, BC fought hard to stay in the game with its defense, intercepting passes in its own penalty box and making huge plays when Wake Forest looked like it was going to score. Senior defender Laura Gouvin led the charge.

“Laura played one the best game[s] she’s played since she’s been at BC and really just broke up a lot of stuff in the middle,” Lowe said.

In the 63rd minute, the Demon Deacons took multiple shots that BC defenders managed to block, leading to an Alex Wood shot, but she was unable to capitalize.

The Eagles continued to stay alive despite Wake Forest’s possession dominance via their stellar defensive plays and clock management, which led to a yellow card on Sydney Segalla for time wasting in the 83rd minute. 

“There was a break and seven minutes left in the game, which was exactly the point where we gave up the game against Louisville,” Lowe said. “We had a break on the sideline and talked about walking out of there with at least a point.”

With 18 seconds remaining in the game, BC generated its third shot of the half in a last-ditch effort to win the game off the foot of Segalla, who missed by margins off the high post.

“I thought today was the best game management we’ve had to just get a result on the road,” Lowe said. 

October 20, 2023