Boston College field hockey traveled to Kentucky for its second-straight top-25 matchup on Friday night, deadlocked in its all-time series with Louisville. Since joining the ACC, the Eagles had split their four matches with the Cardinals. Dating back to 2014 season, the two teams had alternated wins and losses, with Louisville barely outscoring BC during that span by a combined 9-8. In regard to the series, both had won a tightly contested one-score game, in addition to recording a multi-goal victory.
As evenly matched as the programs are, it was no surprise that Friday night’s meeting mirrored that of a stalemate. That was, until the final minute of regulation. With overtime on the horizon, the Cardinals forced three consecutive corners. As they say, the third time’s the charm: After coming up with stops on the first two scoring opportunities, BC goalkeeper Sarah Dwyer watched as Bethany Russ whipped a shot into the cage with no time remaining on the clock. Louisville escaped with a 1-0 victory, securing its first ACC win of the 2018 campaign.
No. 8 Louisville’s (5-2, 1-1 Atlantic Coast) last-minute surge was an anomaly of sorts. All night, the Cardinals struggled to generate offense, especially inside the circle. The No. 9 Eagles (3-3, 1-1)—a team coming off back-to-back one-goal victories—continuously trapped Louisville in the corner, preventing its forwards from getting substantial looks on net.
Head coach Kelly Doton’s group was simply picking up where it left off. In fact, entering the Friday night showdown, the Eagles hadn’t given up a goal in their last 112 minutes of action. That said, BC wasn’t having much luck on the attack either. Although it drew four penalty corners in the first half, it only notched two shots in the opening period.
It was more of the same in the latter portion of play. The Eagles racked up five more corners in the final 35 minutes of regulation, but couldn’t find the back of the cage. This time, though, they upped ante in the shot department. BC tallied nine in the first 30 minutes of the period—six more than Louisville. Frederique Haverhals led the charge with five shots. Not only that, but she was also one of just five Eagles to play every second of regulation. Unfortunately for BC, her persistence was all for naught.
Even when Cardinals midfielder Mackenzie Carl registered a green card and the Eagles were gifted with a two-minute, one-man advantage, they couldn’t get on the board. Neither the Cardinals’ defense nor goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran budged.
The vast majority of Louisville’s offensive output—statistically that is—occured at the very end of the match. Recording three corners and three shots in the game’s final sequence, the Cardinals simply willed their way past Dwyer and the Eagles.
Maria Gomez shouldered the insertion duties, first lining up a pass for Katie Walsh. The sophomore stopped the ball with her stick and Mercedes Pastor looped it back around to Taylor Stone, whose drag flick was promptly saved by Dwyer. The second go-around was a little less dramatic. Like the previous corner, Gomez inserted the ball to Walsh, who set up Pastor for a shot on goal, but the sophomore’s slow roller was deflected by Dwyer. As soon as the ball teetered out of the circle, a third and final corner was called to the chagrin of Haverhals. Louisville made the most of the opportunity.
Once again, Gomez fed the ball to Walsh. Following the stick stop, Russ fired a straight shot into the bottom-left corner of the cage past a diving Dwyer, logging her second goal of the season and her first career game-winner.
The Eagles’ impending schedule will likely soften the blow, considering that three of BC’s next four opponents are non-conference foes. Even though the Eagles are back to .500 in ACC play, Doton has to be encouraged by her team’s resilience. Each of its past five matches have been decided by one goal, including both of its ACC contests. Last season, four of BC’s six regular season conference defeats were three-plus goal blowouts. Even if it’s not showing up in the win column, the Eagles are trending in the right direction.
Featured Image by Andy Backstrom / Heights Editor