The Cavaliers erupted in celebration as midfielder Montana Sutton drilled a game-winning shot off of teammate Betsy Brandon’s cross in the 77th minute, soaring past the reach of goalkeeper Alexis Bryant. Sutton’s goal brought No. 12 Virginia its sixth consecutive win against Boston College women’s soccer, which has failed to defeat the Cavaliers (9-3-4, 4-1-3 Atlantic Coast) since 2011.
The game opened up with a slow start, as both teams struggled to create goal-scoring opportunities. The defensive-oriented Eagles (9-7-1, 3-4-1) failed to build an effective offense, with only two shots on goal in the first half. On the other hand, while Virginia dominated possession, it was unable to break a solid BC back line. All in all, the first half lacked both goal-scoring opportunities and a sense of urgency.
The second half could not have been any more different. BC came out of the gate with intense energy, shutting down Virginia attacks and creating offensive chances by finding passing lanes through the width of the field.
The Eagles’ newfound energy paid off. In the 51st minute, midfielder Sam Coffey sent a beautiful long-ball over the Cavalier defenders, finding teammate Jenna Bike on the right flank. Bike swiftly collected the ball, took a touch towards the middle of the field, and delivered a controlled, grounded shot past Virginia goalkeeper Laurel Ivory to the lower left corner of the net.
But they didn’t stop there. The Eagles continued to give the Cavaliers all they had. In the 57th minute, BC scored a second goal, only to be wiped away by an offsides call. Coffey had sent another perfect ball to midfielder Lauren Berman on the left, who one-timed a cross through the penalty area to a barely offside Carly Leipzig, who pinged the ball to the back of the net. While this goal did not count, the Eagles proved that their offense was back and better than ever.
This is not to say that Virginia’s offense was lacking. The Cavaliers stepped up their game as well, creating more dangerous scoring opportunities. Responding to BC’s goal, Virginia equalized in the 58th minute. After an unsuccessful defensive clear from a Cavalier corner kick, Virginia’s Megan Reid collected the ball and sent it backwards to midfielder Taryn Torres. From 20 yards out, Torres ripped a shot to the upper right corner of the net past Bryant, scoring her sixth goal of the season.
With the score tied at 1-1, it seemed as if the game was just beginning. Scoring opportunities rapidly emerged from both teams, and the energy was off the charts. In the 72nd minute, Coffey sent yet another perfect ball on the ground, slicing Virginia’s back line to find an Eagle for a breakaway, who was taken down from behind by Zoe Morse. The whistle was blown, leading to a BC free kick just three yards outside of the penalty area and an automatic red card for Morse.
Coffey took the free kick, which went directly into Virginia’s four-person wall, leading to chaos in the penalty area: multiple players went down, with BC defender Elysa Virella in particular taking a hit. After the ball went out of bounds, there was a confrontation between Berman, one of the players knocked down, and a Cavalier defender. The referee stepped in and issued Berman a yellow card, and the game resumed.
With tensions heightened and both teams eager to score, the Cavaliers responded quickly by taking the lead with Sutton’s game-winning goal in the 77th minute. Despite facing a one-goal deficit in the beginning of the second half, Virginia successfully beat BC’s defense not once but twice, while the Eagles were unable to convert.
Although they couldn’t come up with the win, BC’s offense dramatically improved in the second half. Head coach Alison Foley attributes this difference to a change in strategy.
“We went into a 4-4-2 and got a little bit more aggressive,” Foley said. “We pressed their back three with our two forwards, which I think got them really uncomfortable in their possession.”
In addition, she stated that the Eagles did a better job creating opportunities.
“We slipped in good balls in gaps and created chances, so I think our team did a great job of changing systems and a great job of applying the changes.”
Despite a hard-fought battle, BC was ultimately unable to take down a relentless Virginia offense. The Eagles pushed with everything they had, but the Cavaliers nonetheless came out on top, earning their sixth consecutive win against BC.
Featured Image by Amelie Trieu / Heights Editor