Previewing 2018 Women’s Soccer: North Carolina

boston college women's soccer

In a season full of tests, with ranked wins over Texas Tech, Florida State, and North Carolina State coming to mind, Boston College women’s soccer faces its toughest one yet on Thursday afternoon in Chapel Hill, N.C. The 11th-ranked Eagles (13-1-1, 5-1-1 Atlantic Coast), undefeated in their last four games, take on No. 3 North Carolina (12-2-1, 7-0)  in a heavyweight conference bout between two teams that have combined for just three losses in 30 games.

Who is BC playing?
North Carolina

When is BC playing?
Thursday, Oct. 18, 3 p.m.

Where is BC playing?
WakeMed Soccer Park, Cary, N.C.

How to Watch:
The game will be available on ACC Network Extra, through the WatchESPN app.

By the Numbers:

BC:

1) After suffering its first loss of the season—a 2-1 overtime setback at the hands of Wake Forest—BC has rebounded with a 3-0-1 mark. The stretch includes wins over Clemson, Virginia Tech, and No. 23 North Carolina State, while the draw was last weekend in Miami.

2) Sam Coffey remains tied for the nation’s lead in assists, with 11, and is tied for fifth in total points with 31. The sophomore is the only underclassman in the nation to rank in the top 10 in points, and one of just two in the top 15.

3) For as much as the offense has drawn attention—BC has 35 goals in 15 games—the defense has arguably been better. The Eagles have allowed just eight goals, a 0.523 goals against average that is good for 18th in the country.

UNC:

1) Despite the quality of opponents in the conference, the Tar Heels have posted a spotless 7-0 record against ACC foes. Five of the seven wins came on the road, impressive results after a front-loaded schedule away from home.

2) Coffey’s star power has a match—Alessia Russo is a sophomore from Kent, England, who plays for the U-20 National Team and came to Chapel Hill after a summer competing in the World Cup. Russo hasn’t skipped a beat in her return, ranking second in the conference in shots and breaking through for five goals and four assists.

3) And, like the Eagles defense, UNC has made things plenty difficult on opposing forwards. The Tar Heels are one spot behind BC in the national rankings for goals against average, posting a 0.525 mark and allowing just eight goals on the year.

Last Meeting:

Things have been far from even in the historical series, with UNC boasting a decisive 17-1 edge in 18 prior meetings. It’s been a long eight years since that lone BC win, a shocking upset for the Eagles of the then-No. 1 Tar Heels. Last year, No. 3 UNC came to Newton and ran away with a 4-1 win. It was a convincing win, as the Tar Heels built a 3-0 halftime lead and easily withstood Carly Leipzig’s 83rd-minute goal. All four goal scorers for UNC return from that game, with Russo, Bridgette Andrzejewski (who scored twice), and Jessie Scarpa all back.

Outlook:

For all the national attention the Eagles have gotten, this is their biggest chance yet to really solidify themselves as contenders in the postseason. BC is playing for a better draw in the NCAA Tournament—with five wins in the ACC and a trio of marquee wins in their back pocket, the Eagles are surely already in. A win over the Tar Heels, especially on the road, could bring new respect from the conference and position them better in their pursuit of a conference title. They’re ranked one spot behind Duke, who they play next, so stealing a win in UNC would be nothing short of monumental.

Still, the caveat remains—even though BC has played incredibly well this season, it’s never had success against the Tar Heels, and it’s played much better at home (10-0) then on the road (3-1-1). UNC also boasts a similarly strong defense and has a wide variety of scoring threats, which the Eagles saw on full display last season in a three-goal loss. This year should be much, much closer, but it’ll come down to which defense breaks first. Both are ranked in the top 20 in scoring defense and will have their hands full with the opposing side, and this is the type of game where one mistake comes back to haunt them.

Featured Image by Amelie Trieu / Heights Senior Staff

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