The script writers for Boston College Women’s Soccer have been a little too predictable this season, constantly reusing the early goal concession on the way to being shutout plot line. The Eagles 1-0 loss to Miami on Thursday followed the script to a T, with the Eagles conceding in the first ten minutes.
Despite early pressure from the Eagles, Miami struck first in the 7th minute off a throw in by Taylor Shell on the left side. Shell found Emma Pidding making a diagonal run to the touchline and threw her the ball. Pidding, on the outside of O’Mahony, took a step before cutting the ball back and making a beeline for the 19-yard box. Seeing María Jakobsdóttir open at the top of the box, Pidding fed a pass through three Eagles players to her open teammate. Jakobsdóttir pushed the ball to her right, separating from her defender and driving deeper into the box, before rifling off a right-footed shot that tucked itself into the far post netting to make the score 1-0 in favor of Miami.
The Eagles had their chances, outshooting Miami 8 to 3 in the first half alone. Timing, however, was not on BC’s side, with crosses into the box being either just ahead or just behind an onrushing Eagle. A chance early in the first bounced in front of the far post, but no Eagle was home to knock it into the net.
Sophia Lowenberg had the best chance of the first half off of a Laura Gouvin corner. The service into the box fell to Sam Agresti, who fired off a shot that the Miami defense blocked, popping the ball out. Lowenberg, in the perfect position, knocked the ball back in, aiming for the near post with a bouncing ball screened by several bodies in the box. Unfortunately, Miami goalkeeper Melissa Dagenais managed to track the ball, making a diving save in the 28th minute.
The timing woes continued in the second, with two close chances for the Eagles that just missed connections that would have put the ball in the back of the net. Sam Smith, leading the team in goals with 6, just missed a high cross across the box. At an awkward height, there was not much Smith could do, but her frustration after the play illustrated the whole team's frustration at the inability to finish off chances. Andi Barth crossed a ball across the face of the net in the 79th minute, but no Eagle could get to it.
Gouvin, playing as the right back, delivered an attacking presence, bookending the second half with two quality chances on net. Her long-distance shot in the 53rd minute curled just wide of the near post, rippling the side netting. Gouvin would send another long-distance shot towards the goal in the 88th minute, this time her curling effort went right to the gut of Miami goalkeeper Dagenais.
Sydney Moore, subbed on for the first half of the second, made an immediate impact through her constant movement off the ball. Part of the Eagles struggles this season stems from being caught in transition with the Eagles either committing too many numbers forward or a through ball finding space on the wings. Moore’s movement off the ball helps to keep the Eagles' shape and plug up gaps that the other team would seek to exploit in transition. Her poise on the ball also helped to stabilize the Eagles offense, slowing the game down and keeping BC from making unforced turnovers.
While spacing has been an issue all season, the Eagles struggled with possession in the midfield this year, playing with a forward and defensive line that were out of sync and struggled to connect passes through the midfield. The turnovers, either by playing a pass out of sync with a player or passing into space that Miami picked off, hurt momentum and prevented the Eagles from having sustained pressure going forward.
BC has proven capable of adapting, and these last two games of the season are a chance for the team to put together all the different lessons they have learned into a comprehensive game plan.
The Eagles (5-7-4) continue their away stretch with an ACC match up against Clemson (7-4-3) on Sunday at 1:00 pm.
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