Women’s soccer snapped a four-game losing streak with a 1-0 victory over Syracuse on Thursday night at Newton. Claire Mensi scored the game’s only goal.
The Eagles finally broke through in the 25th minute, with an Andi Barth cross causing problems for Syracuse goalkeeper Shea Vanderbosch. Barth had the ball on the right side and drove to the corner, crossing the ball into the box with no one around. It looked like an easy save for Vanderbosch until she bobbled the ball, dropping it instead of catching it cleanly. The error allowed Claire Mensi to muscle in, bodying Vanderbosch off the ball and tapping it in on the goal line to make the score 1-0 and give the Eagles their first goal in ACC play and Mensi’s second of the season.
Neither team put together a stellar performance, through the Eagles grit gave them the edge in the competition. The first started off shaky for both teams, routinely trading possession but never creating dangerous chances. The ball seemed stalled in the midfield, where the Eagles preferred to pass laterally or backwards rather than advance up the field. Forward passes tended to be sent into traffic, where Syracuse could swarm the ball and dispossess a BC player, creating a turnover and sending the play the other way, if only briefly.
Towards the end of the first, the Eagles started to find their rhythm, pressing higher and pressuring the Syracuse defense consistently, an improvement from the first 25 minutes where consistency and chemistry were lacking. A Boston College chance in the 37th minute went off the crossbar before being called offsides, highlighting the difficulty the Eagles have in creating dangerous chances that count. Syracuse also did a great job of stepping in on Eagles shots at the last second, blocking or deflecting the ball and preventing a direct look at goal.
Syracuse came out looking for a goal to start the second, but the Eagles held off the initial charge and managed to restore the game to neutral. Neither team had a dominate performance in the second, but the Eagles managed to keep Syracuse off the board. Having managed seven shots in the first half, BC held Syracuse to just three in the second, showing their game management talents. The Eagles also managed to tighten up in the back, giving Syracuse only two corner kicks in the second, compared to four in the first. Midgame adjustments made a difference for the Eagles.
As has been the story of the season, the offsides trap and Wiebke Willebrandt were vital in keeping Syracuse off the scoresheet. Willebrandt recorded her third shutout of the season with a three save performance, including one in the 52nd minute on a rocket from distance that Willebrandt punched over the cross-bar. The offside trap helped to prevent space that Syracuse could exploit, keeping the defensive line tight and forcing Syracuse forwards to try and find a way through with short passes that the Eagles could break up.
Notably, several Eagles also had solid defensive performances, pointing out the growing commitment and cohesion in keeping teams off the scoreboard. Michela Agresti, as always, was a stalwart in the back, playmaking and blocking shots to keep Syracuse from managing a difficult shot. Sydney Segalla had a great track back run in the second to tie up a Syracuse attacker. The overlapping run from Segalla to help on defense is a play the Eagles have been missing all season, with the midfield and defense having too much space between them. Segalla’s defense shows the Eagles have continued to learn from past ACC games.
Sonia Walk also had one of her best games of the season, helping to choke up the midfield and pressure Syracuse attackers into making mistakes. Walk’s distribution, especially in the second, helped the Eagles to pressure the Syracuse back line. In the second, the Eagles would manage six shots compared to only three in the first half. The holding midfielder went down in the second and did not return to the game, which would be a big loss for an Eagles team already missing Ella Richards up top due to injury.
With the win, the Eagles return to .500 on the season.
Next up, the Eagles (5-5-3) face Louisville (4-5-2) on Sunday at noon in an away ACC matchup. BC looks to build on the momentum from Syracuse and put together a win streak in conference play.