Wake Forest women’s soccer opened the season by shutting out seven of its first 10 opponents. Having only given up five goals all season, the Demon Deacons entered Sunday with the No. 15 scoring defense in the country. Someone should’ve told Olivia Vaughn. The Boston College forward netted the game-winning goal in the 74th minute to push the Eagles over their ACC foes. BC’s 1-0 victory is the team’s eighth of the year—already just three short of last season’s total.
BC (8-4, 2-1 Atlantic Coast) came out of the gate with a defensive gameplan, fighting to hold off No. 18 Wake Forest’s (8-2-1, 2-1-0) constant attacks up the right flank. In the 17th minute, a deflection off a Demon Deacon corner kick resulted in a BC handball. Wake Forest was awarded a penalty kick, and midfielder Maddie Huster stepped up to take the shot. But BC goalkeeper Alexis Bryant pulled off an impressive save, diving to her right to deny the Demon Deacons of a goal.
Midway through the half, the Eagles began to find their footing. After relying on brief counter-attacks for the first 20 minutes, BC started creating offense. Jenna Bike led the way with three shots. Lauren Berman and Jillian Jennings also added two shots on goal, and Sam Coffey nearly broke the scoreless tie with a crossbar-hitting rocket.
In addition to outshooting Wake 9-4, the Eagles were just as dominant on the defensive end, preventing the Demon Deacons from recording a single shot in the final 23 minutes of the first half. Left back Elysa Virella made tackle after tackle, effectively shutting down many of the Demon Deacons’ runs. Despite ample goal-scoring opportunities in the first 45 minutes of play, both teams went into the half tied at zero.
It appeared as if intermission drained the energy from both competitors, as evidenced by a very slow opening five minutes. Both teams struggled to maintain possession, resulting in a back-and-forth affair.
Wake gave the Eagles a scare in the 50th minute, when Claudia Day snuck past an otherwise impenetrable BC backline for a breakaway, but failed to put the ball in the back of the net.
For the next 20 minutes, the Eagles responded with a fierce offensive showing. In the 71st minute, a scramble in the Demon Deacons’ defensive third put Bike in position to score. The sophomore ripped a strong shot off of the legs of Wake goalie Lindsay Preston. Bike collected the rebound, and whipped up a second shot, but once again, she was unable to get the best of Preston.
BC’s offensive endeavors finally paid off, when Jennings played a perfect through ball, splitting Deacs’ backline, for Vaughn on the left flank. After cutting inside with the ball, Vaughn sent an equally powerful, yet controlled, shot to the lower left corner of the net. The ball slid past Preston for Vaughn’s fifth goal of the season—tied for most on the team—and the Eagles’ first and only of the day.
BC didn’t take its lead for granted, as it continued to press offensively for the next 10 minutes, even drawing a yellow card from Demon Deacon defender Ally Haran in the 81st minute for a hard tackle.
With five minutes to go, Wake Forest pushed the ball into Eagles territory. BC shifted its defensive strategy, dropping the entire team behind the ball to protect the lead. With three free kicks in BC’s defensive half, the Demon Deacons had several chances to equalize. But Sofia Rossi, Vicky Krug, and Huster all failed to convert.
Tensions heightened in the last two minutes of the match, with Wake Forest taking a fourth free kick from near midfield. With their entire team pushed forward, Preston took the kick, sending a ball inside of the 18. After the ball bobbled around and even escaped Bryant’s hands, Virella headed the ball off the goal line, leading to a safe clear and final whistle from the referee.
At the end of the day, the Eagles simply created more goal-scoring opportunities (with 16 shots as opposed to Wake Forest’s 10) than the Demon Deacons. While BC focused on defensive structure in the beginning of the match, its offense shined when it mattered the most.
After the game, head coach Alison Foley commented on her offensive philosophy.
“We were trying, I think for the first 20 minutes or so, to lock that up centrally in the midfield,” Foley said. “And I think once we had that that allowed us to have a lot more of the ball, and then consequently we started possessing the ball and having more opportunities going forward.”
The Eagles may have dropped a few non-conference matches at the start of the season, but they’re hitting their stride at the right time. For the first time in two years, BC has a winning record in the ACC.
Featured Image by Jacob Catania / Heights Staff