The Boston College Field Hockey team demonstrated its championship ambitions on Sunday by knocking off the defending national champion UConn Huskies, 3-2, in a penalty shootout. The victory capped off a perfect weekend for the Eagles, who beat BU on Friday night in overtime as well; Boston College is now 5-1 and is likely to move up from their spot at #15 in the national rankings.
UConn came in to the game undefeated, carrying a #2 ranking and a 4-0 record. The victory was extra satisfying for Boston College, which came painstakingly close to upsetting the Huskies last year in Connecticut before succumbing in OT to the eventual champions. Sunday's game was the third consecutive battle between these two teams to go in to overtime.
All of the scoring in regulation happened in the second half, with BC waiting until the very last minute to tie the score at 2. With BC down 2-1, they pulled the goalie and attacked the UConn net before sophomore Eryn McCoy scored a goal with under a minute to play to force overtime. It was a valiant comeback for the Eagles, who surrendered the go-ahead goal to UConn just eight minutes prior.
The deadlock continued through two extra sessions before the game advanced to a shootout. Something that, to my knowledge, is unique only to field hockey is the format used if the shootout is tied after the first five shots: they play out another full five rounds, rather than going sudden death. This would end up being crucial for Boston College.
UConn went first in the shootout and proceeded to miss in each of its first four attempts. BC went 0 for its first three, before Katlyn Soucy stepped up and scored to put BC on top. All the Eagles needed was either one save or one goal in the fifth shootout round, but it was not to be, as UConn's Chloe Hunable scored on the Huskies' fifth attempt and forced another round of shootout play.
The shooters found a little more success in the next set of five, with BC shooting first and scoring before UConn answered to level the shootout at 2-2 through six rounds. In round 7, Eryn McCoy was denied for BC, allowing UConn to score in their half of the 7th round and take a 3-2 lead. If shootouts worked the way they did in hockey or soccer, BC would have been out. But they had three more rounds to work with, and made the most of them.
Emily McCoy, Soucy, and star Emma Plasteras scored in back-to-back-to-back attempts to give BC the victory, while Leah Settipane stood firm in net and stopped two of UConn's final three attempts to allow BC to sneak away with the dramatic 4-3 shootout victory.
The win gave BC an early signature moment as they attempt to make the next step nationally while competing in the loaded ACC. Conference play - and, more importantly, the 2014-15 #OrangeEagle - gets underway next Saturday when BC travels to Syracuse to take on the Orange.