When Boston College women’s soccer midfielder Sam Coffey touches the ball, good things happen. During her first year on the Heights, the Sleepy Hollow, N.Y. native recorded five goals and 10 assists, ultimately earning a spot on the All-ACC Freshman team. Four games into the this year’s campaign, the sophomore is on pace to shatter her 2017 totals. Entering Sunday’s match against Connecticut, Coffey was tied for first on the team’s scoring chart.
Now, she’s all alone: The attacking midfielder logged a pair of goals in BC’s 37th meeting with its former Big East rival—one in each period of play—leading the Eagles to a 2-0 victory and their first 4-0 start since 2009.
Thanks to a 5-0 clobbering of Albany this past Thursday, BC’s (4-0) starters were well rested by the time Sunday afternoon rolled around. UConn (1-3), on the other hand, was coming off a tightly-contested 3-2 victory over Central Connecticut State. Knowing the situation at hand, longtime Eagles head coach Alison Foley tried to get a jump on the Huskies, right from the get-go.
BC logged five shots over the course of the first 12 minutes of action. Both Jenna Bike and Olivia Vaughn made a home for themselves deep in UConn’s half, doing all they possibly could to get on the board in the game’s early stages. Just three minutes in, Bike muscled through a pair of Huskies and dished the ball off to Coffey, who promptly dribbled left and fired a shot that veered right of the cage. Then, moments later, Rachel Newborough lofted a cross to a wide-open Gaby Carreiro inside the 18. Instead of going for goal, Carreiro passed the ball to Vaughn, who was located in the heart of the box. Unfortunately for BC, the junior’s shot was blocked before it could even reach UConn goalkeeper Randi Palacios.
Midway through the first half, the Eagles dialed back the aggression. That’s not to say the momentum shifted, though. The Huskies struggled to maintain possession in Eagles territory, often turning the ball over to the opposition before developing any sort of offensive rhythm. In the 34th minute, BC tipped the scale.
On the run, Coffey sent a through ball for Vaughn, who had green in front of her, but was fouled just outside the 18, seconds after receiving the pass. Foley selected Coffey to take the free kick—a decision that looked awfully smart after the sophomore drilled a beaming shot into the bottom-right corner of the net, past the outstretched arms of Palacios.
“I usually miss the frame a lot of the time, but I saw that [Palacios] kind of left the right side [of the net] open,” Coffey said. “I’m better using my laces on the inside of my foot, so I picked a spot, took a deep breath, and just did it—I try not to overthink it.”
It wasn’t until the 41st minute that the Huskies tallied their first shot of the game. Senior defender Liane Keegans heaved a throw-in toward Eagles keeper Alexis Bryant. The fifth-year goalie couldn’t come down with the ball but redeemed herself with a sliding save, stopping Zoe Steck’s dangerous shot attempt. But the redshirt senior couldn’t relax just yet. Keegans corralled the rebound and took a hack at the ball. Luckily for Bryant, the shot was blocked by her back line, and BC walked off the field at intermission with a one-score advantage.
Whatever head coach Margaret Rodriguez said to her team during the break must have worked. The Huskies looked like a completely different team in the latter portion of play. After going practically the entire first half without a shot attempt, UConn registered one in the opening minute of the second period. Creeping inside the box, Sophia Danyko-Kulchycky teed off her first shot of the day. Bryant was all over it and made the easy save, but the offensive run was a sign of what was to come.
The Huskies brought the pressure in the second half, leaving Foley’s team on the defensive for much of the frame. In the 52nd minute, Erin Spillane whipped up a beautiful cross from the left side of the pitch to a leaping Sofia Leone. The junior midfielder might have had a scoring opportunity on her hands, but mistimed the jump, as the ball whizzed past her head and out of bounds.
In the span of three minutes, UConn launched three corner kicks, two of which found the foot of Keegans. However, like all six of the Huskies’ second-half shots, the defenders’ attempts were off the mark. Just when it appeared as if UConn was due to equalize, Coffey reminded everyone who the better team was and, even more convincingly, who was the best player on the field.
Approaching the 72nd minute, Riley Lochhead—positioned on the left side of the Huskies’ half—passed the ball to Coffey, who lasered a 22-yard shot toward the cage. Palacios got a hand on it, but the ball simply ricocheted into the top-right corner of the net.
UConn recorded a few more shots prior to the final whistle, but none were threatening, and the Eagles closed out their third-consecutive shutout. BC has outscored its opponents, 12-2, this season, and Coffey’s a big reason why. With Sunday’s brace, the midfielder has now notched 10 points in the past three matches. To put that in perspective, she racked up 20 all last year—a season for which she was named an All-ACC Third-Teamer.
“She’s in a league of her own, in terms of her ability to find seams,” Foley said. “She’s not the fastest kid in the world, but with the ball at her feet, she’s so deceptive. … She’s one of the best players in the country, and you need that player in the number 10 in games like this.”
Featured Image by Bradley Smart / Heights Editor