From top to bottom, Boston College women’s soccer’s roster is scattered with freshmen and transfers, particularly on the backline. Friday’s home opener against Vanderbilt marked the third-consecutive regular season match in which head coach Alison Foley started newcoming defenders alongside captain Allyson Swaby. While the group played its best game of this young season, the chemistry has yet to solidify.
More than halfway through the first period, the Eagles’ defense began to creep into the Vanderbilt half. Eventually, the Commodores made them pay. With all four BC defenders past midfield, Vanderbilt executed a near-perfect counterattack. Well in her own territory, Lydia Simmons led a streaking Simone Charley down the heart of the field with a beautiful pass. With only Swaby to beat, Charley won the ball, sprinted inside BC’s 18, and ripped a shot into the bottom-right corner of the net.
The Commodores wouldn’t score another goal, or even record a second-half shot, but they didn’t need to. Thanks to goalkeeper Kaitlyn Fahrmer’s 13 saves, Vanderbilt edged the Eagles, 1-0.
From the get-go, BC (1-2-0) had plenty of opportunities on goal.
In the 13th minute, freshman Sam Coffey crossed a corner kick into the box. After a fight for the ball, junior transfer Elysa Virella whipped up a shot, but Fahrmer blocked it almost instantly. Immediately, freshman Gianna Mitchell corralled the ball and passed it back out to Coffey, who teed up a shot of her own, but Fahrmer was there for the save.
Then, just two minutes later, Olivia Vaughn came within inches of her fourth goal of 2017. Jenna Bike split two Vanderbilt (2-1-0) defenders and connected with Vaughn on the left side of the field. The sophomore forward curled the ball left, aiming directly for the top-right corner of the goal. And it would have hit her target, had Fahrmer not made an acrobatic, one-handed save.
Despite playing most of the game on Vanderbilt’s side of the field, BC gave up the first, and only, goal of the night, when the backline over pursued on a potential scoring play. Charley’s momentum and breakaway speed were simply too much for Swaby and Eagles goalie Alexis Bryant to handle.
Through the first 45 minutes of play, BC outshot the Commodores, 13-5, and took all of the game’s corner kicks. Still, Foley’s group was scoreless.
It was more of the same in the second half.
BC recorded nine shots in the latter portion of the match and an additional four corner kicks. Yet none of them landed. Though some were close.
About 11 minutes into the second period, freshman and Dutch U-19 national team member Mijke Roelfsema located Bike on the right side of the pitch. Bike immediately relayed the pass to Lauren Berman. The fifth-year senior danced around the 18, before crossing the ball into the box, but freshman Jillian Jenning’s shot was stopped.
Soon after, the Eagles attempted a counterattack of their own. Following a Vanderbilt corner, Vaughn took the ball coast-to-coast, cut back, and led Coffey toward the net. The freshman ripped a shot toward the right side of the goal, but Fahrmer made another impressive save.
For the remainder of the game, BC continued to struggle to convert on set pieces, as well as corner kicks. In the closing minutes, the Eagles’ pace and pass accuracy dropped. As a result, they failed to get a good look on goal before time expired.
On paper, BC outplayed Vanderbilt, as the Eagles dominated every statistical category, but one. Unfortunately for Foley and Co., that one cost them the game.
“I thought we did a lot of things really really well, except for the most important thing, and that’s the score,” Foley said.
Like any young team, every game is a learning experience for BC. Foley is confident that the team will eventually work out its kinks and come together as a whole. The only question is when.
Featured Image by Amelie Trieu / Heights Editor