A cool, breezy fall night provided the setting for Boston College women’s soccer as it welcomed No. 19 Duke University to Newton for BC’s second ACC matchup of the season. Two overtimes could not separate the two teams, resulting in the Eagles’ first tie of the year and giving them a hard-earned point in the conference standings.
The tone for the game was established early as both teams traded possessions with limited success in finding the box. Both teams displayed technically sound passing and movement, but had limited success in securing the final touches that would allow for scoring opportunities. The back lines of both squads were unforgiving as they adhered to a bend-don’t-break style of defense, resulting in just one shot on target in the first half.
“I thought it was the best [defensive] execution to date,” head coach Alison Foley said. “Duke may have the most dangerous team running forward, and I thought we managed them really well.”
However, that one shot on goal was all the Blue Devils needed to gain the upper hand in the first half. In the 39th minute, a spirited run from Duke junior Christina Gibbons caused a momentary lapse in the Eagles’ defense. Gibbons could not find a wide-open Rebecca Quinn at the top of the 18-yard box. Quinn, with plenty of time, converted, as a well-placed shot skipped off goalkeeper Alexis Bryant’s hands and into the bottom corner of the net for just her second goal of the season.
The second half saw slightly more offensive success from both sides—the Eagles managed three shots on goal, while holding Duke to a meager four.
The Eagles had difficulty mounting successful offensive possessions all night, which Foley attributed to a robust Duke defensive line.
“They did a good job dropping their back line,” Foley said. “They did a good job staying compact. We like to get in behind teams, so we had to change and play in the space in front of the back line.”
The Eagles got in behind the Duke defense in the 51st minute on a gorgeous assist from redshirt freshman Shea Newman. The ball soared from just inside the midfield line directly to the foot of junior Hayley Dowd, who struck a magnificent shot off the bounce from the edge of the 18-yard box past the outstretched hand of Duke keeper EJ Proctor to notch the game even at 1-1.
The stalemate was kept in tact in no small part due to the efforts of BC keeper Alexis Bryant. In the 57th minute, she soared through the air to tip a screaming Duke shot headed for the upper corner of the net off of the crossbar and out of play.
The score remained tied through regulation, requiring BC to enter its third overtime game of the season.
Bryant would make her presence felt again in the 95th minute, as she ventured well outside the box and cut out a dangerous Duke pass. She chased the ball down, beating out a Duke attacker, and deftly clear the ball to safety.
It will be interesting to see how this hard fought draw will influence BC as it moves forward on a difficult march through the heart of its ACC schedule. For now, though, the Eagles will take the point.
“When you’re playing teams, who at the moment are ahead of you, and you can get a point off of them, I think you’re really satisfied,” Foley said.
Featured Image by Daniella Fasciano / Heights Editor