add_theme_support( 'post-thumbnails' );Eagles Tie Wake Forest 1-1 in Women's Soccer - BANG.
Photo Courtesy of Boston College Women's Soccer / Twitter

Eagles Tie Wake Forest 1-1 in Women's Soccer

The Eagles started their Southern road trip off strong, tying Wake Forest 1-1 on October 19th. The tie is BC’s second in ACC play as the team once again scored first, only to concede in the second half. Ella Richards scored for the Eagles with Anna Swanson scoring for the Demon Deacons.

As the season winds down, Richards has found her finishing touch, this time scoring to give the Eagles the lead in the 20th minute. The play started with Emily Sapienza taking a corner, whipping the ball into the box near the top of the six-yard back at the far post. Bella Douglas got her head on it, sending the ball towards the goal. Richards found herself in the right place at the right time, and held onside by a lingering Wake Forest defender. As the ball dipped towards the goal, Richards turned and used her thigh to redirect the ball just past Wake Forest goalkeeper Payton Cahill. The goal was Richards’ 7th of the season and gave the Eagles the 1-0 lead.

Wake Forest answered in the 51st minute with a goal of their own. Taking her space on the left wing, Swanson dribbled towards the touchline, before cutting inside towards the box. With her defender chasing, Swanson took a step and then curled her shot towards the far post, hoping a trailing runner would tap the ball home. Instead, the low ball missed everyone, hitting the far post and bouncing in to give Swanson her third goal of the season and tie the score 1-1.

The game appeared as a tale of two halves, with the Eagles, as has been their custom this season, pushing hard in the first half to find the go-ahead goal. With plenty of contested space in the midfield, neither team spent much time in the attacking third, carrying the ball to the 18-yard box before losing possession and the ball going the other way. The Eagles found some success in shifting their attack wide, allowing there to be space in the center of the field in exchange for possessing the ball deeper on the wings.

Particularly effective is the combination of Richards and winger Aislin Streicek. Both tend to drop deeper to carry the ball up the field, looking for runners to feed the ball to before receiving the pass back to finish with a shot. The two’s chemistry was apparent in the 19th minute, when Richards sliced through the Wake Forest lines and found Streicek open, but Streicek’s shot went just wide with a touch by goalkeeper Cahill. The deflection led to the corner kick opportunity that ultimately turned into the Eagles’ goal.  

Going into the second half down one, Wake Forest adjusted to push the tempo, searching for the equalizer and catching the Eagles disorganized at the start. Just before Swanson’s shot, the Demon Deacons had a chance at the near post with an unmarked player nearly getting her foot onto a bouncing cross. The intense pressure prevented the Eagles from being able to find dangerous chances and therefore an opportunity to win the game. It also led to yellow cards on Claire Mensi and Sydney Segalla.

With Wake Forest turning on the pressure in the second, the game hung in the balance and the Eagles’ defense was forced into stopping eight shots, though only two were on net. Wiebke Willebrandt, as she has all season, helped to keep the defense organized and calm under pressure, making the saves required and refusing to let the Wake Forest goal define the second half. By settling the game down, Willebrandt gave the Eagles a chance to build into the attack, instead of simply defending.

A second tie in two games has slowed the Eagles ACC skid and proved the team can compete in the conference, building confidence in the final three games of the season. With Richards coming alive and Streicek a dangerous option on the wing, the Eagles attack has finally clicked into gear, providing the defense some relief. Balanced across the field, and with players comfortable subbing on into two or three positions, the squad seems to have found the ability to innovate their way into ACC goals, making matches competitive.