Boston College women’s soccer lost a close match on the road against Duke on Sunday afternoon by a score of 2-1. The team arrived in Durham, NC seeking their first ever road-victory against Duke; in their previous eight meetings in Durham, BC has lost seven and escaped only once with a draw. This time was a disappointing repeat of past history, as the Eagles could not hold onto an early lead and fell victim to a late Duke goal.
The Eagles had a rough start to the first half with Duke dominating offensively within the first few minutes. Despite both teams lining up in possession-oriented 4-3-3 formations, it was Duke that took complete control over the ball from the start. The Blue Devils were very patient and played comfortably between the backline and midfield duo of Kat McDonald and Sydney Simmons.
To avoid giving up too many chances, BC let Duke’s defense and midfield pass around in their own half. Ella Stevens started the attack from Duke’s midfield, with forward Tess Boade playing as a constant terror for BC defenders Gianna Mitchell and Elysa Virella on the left wing.
Although the Blue Devils dominated in possession, they had few clear chances in the opening minutes. Surprisingly, it was the Eagles that opened the scoring in the tenth minute against the run of play. After Duke lost the ball deep in BC territory, Duke center-back Taylor Mitchell misread the over-the-top pass from Coffey, letting it bounce over her head and right to the feet of Olivia Vaughn. Vaughn pounced on the error and blasted her ninth goal of the season into the top corner; the play also marked Sam Coffey’s ACC-leading 12th assist of the season.
Yet, the Blue Devils were not discouraged by the early deficit, especially having recently rebounded to beat Louisville 2-1 in their last outing after being down 1-0, forcing the Eagles to exert a lot of energy throughout the entire game.
Duke’s Stevens and Boade continued to harmonize to create dangerous chances. On BC’s end, goaltender Alexis Bryant was forced to make a great save after a defensive error left Duke forward Kayla McCoy with a chance from a tight angle. Duke’s constant attack mode pressured BC to try to play vertical balls, but the team had little success getting the ball to forwards Jenna Bike and Olivia Vaughn.
The Eagles were unable to sustain their lead though the first half as Duke freshman midfielder Mackenzie Pluck scored an equalizer in minute 33, just over two minutes after being subbed in. She slotted a brilliant pass from McCoy under the arm of Bryant at the near left post for her fourth goal of the season.
The Eagles fared much better early on in the second half, making the game much more even in possession with more end-to-end attacking. BC had a couple of good chances in the opening few minutes; Coffey had a free kick just outside the box that was saved off the line by Duke’s Brooke Heinsohn. Moments later, Vaughn nearly gave BC the lead back as she ripped a shot from distance off the bar. Another BC header by Jillian Jennings scraped just inches wide of the right post in minute 58.
However, BC’s greater second-half share of possession and attacking came back to bite them. The Eagles luckily escaped some near misses from Duke that came as a result of sending more players into attack. A heroic save from Bryant and a clearance off the goaline with seven minutes remaining kept BC afloat.
As the game seemed to be heading toward a draw, BC was stunned following a late goal by McCoy in the final minutes. Delaney Graham made a great run down the left wing on a Duke counter before Boade took the ball off her. Boade then made a great pass to McCoy who beat her defender on the right side of the box. With a little luck as a slight deflection took the ball past Bryant, McCoy notched her tenth goal of the season and 36th goal of her career into the bottom left corner.
Duke’s great defending combined with long droughts of BC being unable to get a shot off led to the Eagle’s downfall this Sunday. After a Duke-dominated first half, BC played a solid second half that had a lot of positives to take away from outside of the late loss. They put themselves in a position for good chances with 9 corners won, but unfortunately they could not capitalize.
The Eagles now stand 13-3-1 on the season and will look to bounce back in their final regular season game against Pittsburgh on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Newton Soccer Field, where they remain undefeated on the season (10-0-0).