Five minutes into Boston College field hockey’s non-conference matchup against No. 19 Liberty, the Lady Flames won a penalty corner. A layoff from Moniek van Aarle found the stick of Agueda Moroni, the NCAA’s leading goal-scorer in 2018. Given an early opportunity to show the Eagles exactly what she could do, the senior star made no mistake, burying a shot past Joanna Kennedy to give Liberty a 1-0 lead.
It was not the start that BC —attempting to bounce back from a heartbreaking loss to No. 4 Duke Friday night—was looking for. It only got worse from there. Moroni continued to be a thorn in the Eagles’ side, eventually recording her second goal of the game on another penalty corner, nine minutes into the second half. And the Lady Flames’ excellent defense continually frustrated BC, allowing a single goal to Lucy Lytle and then shutting the door, dooming the Eagles to a 2-1 loss and a winless weekend road trip.
Moroni got the game started by forcing a Kennedy save just 55 seconds into the contest, then followed up by scoring the opening goal of the game three minutes later. After the scoring play, the game settled into a possession battle, as neither side had a chance for the next 15 minutes, until BC (9-7, 2-4 Atlantic Coast) won its first penalty corner of the game 20 minutes in. Brigid Wood directed the insert toward Haverhals, whose shot resulted in Liberty (11-5, 5-1 Big East) keeper Allison Schaefer’s first save of the game.
The rest of the half was dominated by the Eagles. Another Haverhals corner-induced shot was blocked by a scrambling Liberty defender, Brooke Matherson pushed a shot high, and Fusine Govaert saw one more shot blocked with no time remaining, as BC went into the half, trailing, 1-0, despite outshooting the Lady Flames, 4-0, in the last 35 minutes of the period.
In the second period, the Eagles picked up right where they left off. Six minutes in, Lytle drew another save out of Schaefer, and Haverhals sent a drive wide of the cage, as BC looked for an equalizer. But just as the chances began to mount for BC, Liberty doubled its lead. The Lady Flames won another penalty corner, and the result was exactly the same as the first: Kendra Jones laid the ball off to Moroni, and the Lady Flames’ star slotted another shot past Kennedy, leaving the Eagles staring at a 2-0 deficit.
Now desperate for a goal to get back in the game, the Eagles pushed forward again. And when they did finally break through, it was Lytle—a senior midfielder who’s scored in four-consecutive games—who provided the goal. Seven minutes after Moroni’s second goal, the senior took matters into her own hands, dribbling around the defense and firing a low shot past Schaefer to get BC back into the game.
The Eagles kept pressing for an equalizer. Wood watched as her shot was stopped by Schaefer, and Haverhals had a pair of strikes blocked. On the other end, Alivia Klopp’s attempt was saved by Kennedy, and Abby Julius had a penalty corner shot blocked. In the final 50 seconds, the Eagles removed Kennedy in favor of an extra attacker, sending Jaime Natale in for one final gamble, but wasn’t able to force the ball into the back of the net.
At the end of the day, it was Liberty’s excellent corner defense that proved to be the difference. The Eagles won 11 corners, compared to just five for the Lady Flames, but wasn’t able to convert any, while Liberty capitalized on two such plays. The Lady Flames’ corner defense has been a strength all season, as they have allowed just seven penalty corner goals in 16 games this season.
The end result, though, was more of the same story for BC. Once again, the Eagles outshot another ranked opponent, only to fail to convert their chances and eventually lose a close contest. BC clearly has the talent to succeed, but simply hasn’t been able to get over the hump lately, dropping four of its last six matches. With just two games left to play, the Eagles will have to start performing better offensively. If they don’t, the possibility of another early ACC Tournament exit, and even missing the NCAA tournament, looms.
Featured Image by Jonathan Ye / For The Heights