BOSTON — The last time the Northeastern and Boston College women’s soccer teams faced off was in the unusual spring 2021 season, following the cancellation of the fall 2020 slate due to COVID-19.
Northeastern, in their 26 years of women’s soccer, have a record of 0-16-1 against the Eagles. On Sunday, the Huskies couldn’t buck the historical trend, falling to BC 4-1 in their home opener.
Coming off of a 1-0 win at Boston University to open the season on Thursday, the Huskies started off strong against the Eagles. In the opening minutes, the play was going across the entire length of the pitch, with each team using a combination of speed and size to catch up to dumped balls deep in the offensive end. Neither team was able to link together enough passes to really deconstruct the other’s defense, and it seemed like it would be a low scoring affair.
But as the first half wore on, BC midfielder Emily Sapienza began to take over. The Eagles’ No. 10 was allowed acres of space on her right wing, which allowed her to run and reach deep into her bag of one-on-one moves. She had a few looks after cutting in, but the Northeastern defense was able to get in the way. Midfielder Ella Richards was the facilitator of Sapienza’s key breakout, placing a perfectly weighted pass right into her path. Sapienza quickly cut in, and Huskies beat keeper Holland Stam to her left with a cool finish to give her side the lead, only 12 minutes into the match.
Past Northeastern teams may have rolled over and accepted defeat at the hands of a perennial dominator, but not this time. Huskies forward Vivian Akyirem found herself on a breakaway after a great pass from Jessie Hunt, and the freshman striker beat Eagles goalie Wiebke Willebrandt and knot the game at one apiece. It was her first score as a Husky.
Immediately after Northeastern’s response, BC head coach Jason Lowe made two key substitutions, putting Andi Barth and Riley Kerber on the pitch. Barth took over for Sapienza on the right wing, and picked up where she left off. A sublime through ball cut the Northeastern defense out of the equation, leaving Barth with only Stam to beat. Stam came off her line, but presented too large of an opening between her legs, allowing Barth to put it through the five-hole and take the lead.
The Huskies wouldn’t go down quietly. Megan Putvinski and Akyirem constantly pulled quality shots out of dire situations, but it simply wasn’t enough. The Eagles went on the defensive for the rest of the first half, and the Huskies couldn’t break through.
The second half started, and it was clear that the Eagles weren’t done yet. They immediately pressured the Huskies, forcing Stam to make a few tough saves early in the half. The possession then leveled out, and each team was playing the full length of the pitch. It seemed like Northeastern could hang on for a miracle.
Unfortunately, no miracle would come. A blatant foul in the box by the offensive-minded Putvinski allowed forward Sam Smith to score from a penalty kick, and a poor clearance off of a cross allowed Richards to net one as well.
The score was now 4-1, with two goals coming less than eight minutes apart, and the wheels had truly fallen off the wagon for the Huskies.
They may have been defeated, but the fire was still lit under their feet. The Huskies continued to engage the Eagles physically, which clearly got under the nerves of the leading team. Katherine Marchesseault, who was rock-solid all game, tussled with Richards down in the Northeastern end. Marchesseault may have pulled on Richards’ jersey, but it was Richards who lashed out with a shove, drawing a straight red card.
While the Huskies may have been up a player, there simply was not time on the clock to recover. A few chances came and went, but the score held the same.
Northeastern next takes the turf on Parsons Field Thursday against Rhode Island at 9 p.m. Stay tuned to WRBB Sports’ twitter for updates on where to tune in.