A sunny, blue-skied Saturday afternoon brought out a large crowd to watch No. 15 Boston College (6-3, 1-2 Atlantic Coast) welcome No. 3 Syracuse (7-3, 1-1) to Newton, Mass. Spectators lined all edges of the field and peered through sunglasses as the Eagles put together a full team effort en route to a 13-8 upset victory, giving them their first conference win.
The Eagles’ last conference game resulted in a 7-6 overtime loss to Louisville on Feb. 27. BC came to play Saturday with a sense of urgency and an air of confidence that spurred it into action. After taking control of the opening draw, the Eagles wasted no time in spreading the Orange defense with accurate passing, before getting the ball to the stick of senior midfielder Sarah Mannelly. Mannelly sliced her way through the Syracuse defense like a knife through warm butter before burying a shot into the top corner just 56 seconds into the game.
Despite BC’s early goal, Syracuse remained calm, cool, and collected, and responded with an expertly executed offensive set culminating in a well placed shot from sophomore Riley Donahue to level the playing field.
The mentality and play of both teams in the first half can be swiftly summarized as: anything you can do, I can do better. BC and Syracuse alternated goals for the remainder of the first half, staring each other down, neither team willing to blink. For every call there was a response. A free position goal from junior Tess Chandler capped the scoring for the first half and gave the Eagles the 7-6 edge heading into halftime.
The parity would prove to be temporary however as BC took control of the second half. A nice save from junior goalkeeper Zoe Ochoa led to another beautiful score from Mannelly, who beat the Syracuse goalkeeper while diving through the air. The goal gave BC its first multiple-goal lead of the game, and the Eagles never looked back. The Eagles proceeded to go on a 3-1 run, dominating time of possession and frustrating the Orange, which was scarcely able to mount any sort of offensive threat. Now down 11-7, Syracuse was forced to take a timeout.
After returning from the huddle to the ensuing drop, junior Kate Weeks delivered the dagger. She and Mannelly executed a masterful breakaway, barreling down the field, right through the heart of Syracuse’s back line to score. It took BC just nine seconds to score following the Syracuse timeout. With all the momentum and a five-goal lead to protect, it became clear that the Eagles were firmly in the driver’s seat.
The Eagles would score another to push the score to 13-7 before Syracuse would respond with one of their own. Despite Syracuse’s desperate attempts at a comeback, Ochoa repeatedly rose to the occasion, swallowing up every shot that the Orange could muster en route to recording 10 saves on the day. Head coach Acacia Walker, when asked about Ochoa’s performance after the game, said she was absolutely in the zone.
As the final horn sounded with the scoreboard reading 13-8 in favor of BC, the Eagles rushed the field and celebrated their upset, as Syracuse watched from the sidelines.
Walker credited the second-half dominance to increased composure, which she said had been a main focus in practice the previous week.
“I don’t think the girls ever lost faith,” Walker said. “A good win can help your confidence.”
Despite the big win, Walker was hesitant to get too caught up in the moment since a matchup with rival North Carolina still looms on BC’s horizon.
“It’ll be a hard week of practice and hopefully we’ll improve even more,” Walker said. “We’ve got Carolina on Saturday, there’s no time to celebrate.”
Featured Image by Lucius Xuan / Heights Staff