add_theme_support( 'post-thumbnails' );Eagles Drop Match Against Notre Dame in Women's Soccer - BANG.
Photo Courtesy of Boston College Women's Soccer / Twitter

Eagles Drop Match Against Notre Dame in Women's Soccer

The Eagles took the fight to No.11 Notre Dame, but ultimately lost 3-1 to the Fighting Irish on Thursday, October 5th away at Alumni Stadium. Ella Richards scored for the Eagles while Charlie Codd, Ellie Ospeck, and Maddie Mercado scored for Notre Dame.

It was a dream start for the Eagles, with Richards capitalizing on a rebound in the fifth minute to give BC the early lead. Emily Sapienza took a shot from outside the box, sending the ball in low and towards the near post. Notre Dame goalkeeper Atlee Olofson parried the ball away into space. For a moment, everyone seemed frozen, except Richards, who rushed in to smash the ball into the back of the net for her fifth of the year. The goal gave the Eagles the 1-0 lead and capitalized off the high energy the Eagles started the game with.

Notre Dame answered in the 35th minute, also capitalizing off a rebound in the box. Leah Klenke started the play on the left side, crossing the ball to the open Ospeck, who had found the gap between the two Eagles defenders. Ospeck headed the ball at the net, but Wiebke Willebrandt was able to punch the ball away, sending it back out on the left side. Unfortunately, her clearance fell right to the open Codd, who swept it into the near post netting to tie the game with her first collegiate goal.

With 17 minutes left, Notre Dame would strike again to give themselves the lead. The play started with a beautiful through ball on the right side to Morgan Roy, who had a step on BC defender Bella Douglas. Roy passed the ball to Kristina Lynch, who was waiting at the top of the six-yard box. With a deft touch, Lynch backheeled the ball to Ospeck, who was making the trailing run. Making no mistake, Ospeck blasted the ball into the upper netting with her right foot, giving Willebrandt no chance at making the save and making the score 2-1 Fighting Irish.

The dagger came in the 89th minute, after the Eagles were forced to make an unexpected goalkeeping change due to a collision that forced Willebrandt to leave the game and Eva Nahas to sub in. Once again, Ospeck did the hard work of bringing down Olofson’s goal kick, before laying the ball off to Mercado to her right. From well outside the box, Mercado blasted a rocket that just dripped under BC keeper Nahas’s hands and into the lower far post netting to make the score 3-1 Notre Dame. 

Despite the lopsided score line, the Eagles took the game to Notre Dame, scoring early, maintaining the pressure, and forcing turnovers. The Fighting Irish also started the game slow, taking too many touches in the final third and opting to pass instead of taking the shot, but those mistakes were aided by the Eagles' relentless pressure on the ball. Working as a unit, the Eagles held Notre Dame shotless until the 26th minute.

The Eagles had chances of their own, especially taking advantage of their midfielder’s accuracy from distance. Richard’s rebound goal came from Spaienza’s long shot from outside the box. Laura Gouvin forced a save out of Fighting Irish keeper Olofson in the 28th minute, sending a beautiful ball towards the far post that was just dipping under the crossbar before Olofson got a hand on it to punch it out for an Eagles corner. Throughout the match, the Eagles had their chances, but just weren’t as lethal as Notre Dame, preventing them from building a lead.

Both teams fought for control of the midfield, with the backlines proving solid for both teams, hence the abundance of shots from outside the box. The Eagles attempted to bypass Notre Dame’s defensive structure with short, controlled triangle passes along the wings or aggressive changes of field to open up space. The short passes also helped the Eagles stay compact, retaining their shape and allowing quicker defensive recoveries from the wingers. The refined defensive structure also gave BC more space in offense, allowing longer spells of possession against an ACC team, while avoiding one-on-one situations. While the plan didn’t give the Eagles the result they wanted, it did demonstrate their ability to pressure the opposition.

The Eagles (3-8-2) face no.2 Florida State (9-0-1) away at FSU on Sunday, October 8th at 1:00 pm. BC is still looking for its first ACC win of the season.

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