Down 3–1 with just over three minutes to play and its season on the line, Boston College field hockey’s chances at advancing to the semifinal of the ACC Tournament looked bleak.
Louisville led BC by two goals in a game that saw plenty of offensive opportunities for the trailing team. But with 2:01 to go in the final quarter of the contest, senior midfielder Peyton Hale rocketed a high-flying shot into the back of the net, narrowly threading the ball past the Cardinals’ defense.
For Louisville fans watching this competitive Halloween contest, Hale’s goal was a nightmare come true. Although a 10-save performance from Louisville goalkeeper Merlijn van der Vegt limited the Eagles to just one goal up to that point, Hale’s score shifted the game’s momentum entirely in BC’s favor.
But when BC’s players resumed their positions and attempted to tie up the game, the Eagles’ relentless offense didn’t have enough in its tank to close out the comeback. No. 13 BC (11–7, 2–4 Atlantic Coast) fell to the No. 10 Cardinals (14–5, 3–3) 3–2 in the ACC Tournament quarterfinal on Tuesday. The game marked the end of the No. 6-seed Eagles’ conference tournament play and diminished their chances at being selected for the NCAA Tournament.
BC head coach Kelly Doton declined to comment after the loss to the No. 3-seed Cardinals.
The first quarter of Tuesday’s tournament match did not lack excitement, with each team getting off to quick starts. Six minutes into the game, Louisville forward Tyler Everslage made a slick move to get past the Eagles’ defense and barely failed to convert on a shot.
Just two minutes later, BC saw its first offensive chance when Olivia Hahn found forward Margo Carlin for her first of five shots on goal. Although the Eagles failed to convert on this initial break, BC’s offense didn’t seem too discouraged.
Within a minute, defender Simone Hefting overpowered van der Vegt with a forceful shot to score the game’s first goal. While the 1–0 lead may have instilled some confidence in the underdog BC squad, Louisville made sure this was short-lived by capitalizing on a BC defensive error to level the playing field 1–1 with just over five minutes to go in the first quarter.
Aside from another Hefting shot on goal in the waning seconds of the first, the next major excitement didn’t occur until early in the second period, when forward Kara Heck intercepted an errant Louisville pass, setting up Carlin for yet another crisp shot. Van der Vegt, however, barely managed to make the save.
This shot led to both a corner and a crucial moment in the game, as—despite BC’s offensive prowess up to this point—an error on the corner’s execution led to a Cardinals breakaway opportunity that culminated in the Rylie Wollerton’s second goal of the day with 12 minutes to go in the half.
BC responded to this with a brilliant bout of defensive play, which included 12 straight minutes without allowing a shot on goal and five straight Louisville possessions that did not even reach the field’s halfway point.
The 2–1 deficit BC found itself in at halftime widened early in the third quarter when Wollerton weaved a precise pass to the stick of Everslage. Everslage wasted no time turning it into the third goal scored on Eagles netminder Caroline Kelly.
Despite the Cardinals’ favored odds and scoreboard advantage, BC did not cease to apply the pressure it had successfully imposed all game. Both Kendall Hanlon and Juliette Hijdra nearly scored for the Eagles before the end of the third frame.
The fourth quarter featured a continuation of BC’s offensive bombardment, as various players took turns testing van der Vegt’s goalkeeping talent. Among these opportunities was another Carlin shot on goal at the 49:52 mark, which Van der Vegt narrowly saved with her outstretched leg.
Although Hale’s goal created some notion of a comeback chance, BC failed to score again and ended the game just out of reach of an ACC Tournament semifinal bid. BC’s converted on two of 17 shots and 12 shots on goal in the game.