Dowd’s Strikes Spur ACC Victory Over Pittsburgh

Women’s soccer picked up its first ACC win on Thursday night, taking down the University of Pittsburgh at Harvard’s Ohiri Field. This victory came off another shining performance from sophomore Hayley Dowd, who scored the first two goals of the game for Boston College, and assisted the third, as BC downed the Panthers 3-1.

It was a physical game early on for both sides, but play remained relatively clean for the duration of the first half. BC had several promising plays up the side that led to crosses near Pittsburgh’s net, but the team failed to convert on these early opportunities.

After going 10 minutes without a true scoring chance, BC’s Stephanie McCaffrey tore up the middle of the field towards Pittsburgh’s end. The senior forward hesitated 10 feet from the box, dribbled to the right, stalled again, and then pushed forward into the box, carrying two defenders on her heels. Even with the pressure on her, McCaffrey still managed to fire a rocket high toward the top of the goal. The shot cleared the keeper, but just scraped the top part of the crossbar, and deflected back out of bounds.

A Pitt player got a piece of the shot, however, giving BC a corner on the play. Junior Lauren Bernard took the kick, placing it perfectly on the near side of the net for Dowd, who headed in her seventh goal of the season.

“Hayley gets in the right spots at the right time,” said head coach Alison Foley. “She has a lot of different ways she can score. She’s one of the most eclectic scorers we’ve had in the program. The breakaway showed her speed and her ability to draw the keeper and her timing to slip the ball. She had a great game.”

Dowd would go on to score BC’s second goal seven minutes into the second half, receiving a beautiful pass from teammate Rosie DiMartino and beating the keeper with a powerful low shot. Less than two minutes later, Dowd would pick up her third assist of the season to go along with her eight goals. Junior Jana Jeffrey scored the third and final goal for BC.

Losing a seasoned member of any team hurts, but when a keeper goes down, the sting can be especially strong. After starting goalkeeper Alex Johnson was injured by a collision in BC’s tilt with South Florida last week, freshman Darien Dunham has tended the net. After starting her college career 0-1, Dunham stepped up in Thursday’s game, making several diving and one leaping save that kept the Panthers off the scoreboard for the first half.

Foley, for one, praised the performance of her young keeper. “I thought she was excellent,” Foley said. “I thought her decision-making, about when to come off her line, was very good. She managed over-the-top very well. Her distribution was good, her demeanor was excellent: she certainly did not play like a freshman today.”

In fact, Dunham’s only clear flash of inexperience in the game came with just under 10 minutes left in the contest. She ventured out toward the edge of the box and dove for the ball before Pittsburgh could shoot, but fell short. A Pitt forward’s attempted chip over Dunham bounced off the right goal post, giving Dunham the chance to recover and clear the ball before the Panthers could attempt a second-chance goal.

Pittsburgh’s only goal on the day came just seconds after BC’s final goal, when Roosa Arvas fired a rebound from a Dunham kick-save over the heads of BC’s defenders into the top of the net.

BC improved to 8-3 with the victory. “I think [getting this first ACC win] is huge,” Foley said. “Every time you can get three points in this league, it’s a big deal. You can never predict who’s going to be the winner in any ACC match. To bounce back from [the loss against] Florida State and get this win was very important.”

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