Eagles Drop ACC Tournament Opener to No. 2 Duke

Boston College field hockey

When Boston College field hockey faced off against then-No. 2 ranked Duke back in September, few gave the Eagles a fighting chance. But they gave the Blue Devils a scare in the first round of ACC Tournament play in Louisville, Ky. on Thursday afternoon, thanks to quality goals from Alesandra Miller and Brooke Matherson, and a stellar defensive performance from goalie Sarah Dwyer. It took more than the allotted 70 minutes for Duke to eventually slip by BC, in what ended as a 3-2 overtime loss for the Eagles.

To say that the No. 12 Eagles (11-8, 0-7 Atlantic Coast) put forth their best effort in another overtime loss—their third of the year and second to the Blue Devils—would be an understatement. After allowing two goals in the first 10 minutes of the game, BC played lockdown defense, holding No. 2 Duke (16-2, 5-2 ACC) scoreless for the final 60 minutes of regulation.

The first Blue Devils goal came less than four minutes into the game. A pass from midfield connected with Ainsley Gill all the way down in the inner circle. Gill fed Rose Tynan, who then deflected the ball into the cage to put Duke on the board.

Just a few minutes later, all hope appeared to be lost for the Eagles. Tynan was found unmarked right in front of the goal, on a pass from Ashley Kristen. The junior logged her second goal of the game, digging BC into a big hole.

Although the momentum stayed on the Blue Devils’ side for the rest of the half, head coach Kelly Doton’s group never gave up. With 25 minutes left in the second half, the Eagles appeared to be on the wrong end of a penalty stroke call that could have been the final dagger to their season. Fortunately, the decision was reversed by the officials, and just three minutes later Maddy Dorn deflected a pass from Caroline McGovern into the corner of the net.

The goal put BC in a position to turn its trip to the postseason around, and with less than five minutes left, the Eagles did just that. After going a man up from a Duke green card with under four minutes to play, Carly Kauffman traced the outside of the inner circle and sent the ball flying into the air. The shot ricocheted off of a Duke defender into the back on the cage to tie the game.

While the Duke offense persisted towards the end of regulation, Dwyer made some phenomenal saves to keep the Eagles alive. Most notably was a kick save with seconds to go that would have surely ended the game. BC then played incredible team defense, extinguishing three Duke corners before the game’s end. Then, shortly into overtime, Chelcie Mendonca made a timely steal on what looked like a Blue Devils game-winner from the inner circle.

Duke eventually outlasted BC in overtime off of a short-corner rebound goal from Margaux Paolino, who had made the initial pass on the play. It was déjà vu for the Eagles, who wanted to avoid repeating their last showing against Duke.

Not everything was disappointing for BC, however, as the team showed great promise. In its first matchup against Duke, it was two senior goal-scorers leading BC. This time around, it was the freshmen, Dorn and Kauffman, who forced overtime. Despite losing all of its conference games, the Eagles have a good chance of receiving a bid to the NCAA Tournament, thanks to their six wins against ranked opponents this season. Doton and Co. will learn of their fate on Sunday night.

Featured Image by Sam Zhai / Heights Staff