February 15, 2014

Draw Dominance Leads Boston College by Notre Dame

by Matthew DeFranks | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. — No. 11 Notre Dame did not need to rule the world, they just need to win the draw.

In Notre Dame's inaugural ACC game, No. 20 Boston College won the draw control battle 16-11, claiming a 15-10 win over the Irish (1-1, 0-1 ACC) on Saturday at Loftus Sports Center.

"We joke about this 'Win the draw, rule the world' but, unfortunately, what happened was we got beat by five on the draw and by five in the game," Irish coach Christine Halfpenny said.

The Eagles (1-0, 1-0) won nine of the 12 second-half draws and dominated possession in the final 20 minutes of the game. Eagles senior midfielder Kate McCarthy led Boston College with four draw controls while senior defender Claire Blohm and sophomore midfielder Kara Magley each had three in the win.

Irish junior defender Barbara Sullivan, in her first game of the season, led Notre Dame with six draw controls.

"When you're playing a team like Notre Dame, you know that you have to be super aggressive," Eagles coach Acacia Walker said. "We work on the draws a lot. I think they just came into the game knowing it was going to be a fight and they were right."

The draw controls fueled Boston College's second-half run and forced the Irish to play from behind. Still, Halfpenny said she was comfortable with who she had taking draws — the All-American Sullivan.

"She obviously did really well on the draw with six draw controls herself but it's just getting comfortable with our unit again," Halfpenny said. "We'll grow from this. We don't feel like anything is broken, it's just fine-tuning things."

When Eagles junior attacker Covie Stanwick scored with 16:20 left in the second half, Boston College led 13-10. Cue the Boston College slow-down offense.

"At the end of the day, when they went up three, they slowed the ball down," Halfpenny said. "We had opportunities when they were slowing down the ball but, unfortunately, we didn't capitalize on them in the midfield."

Notre Dame struggled to generate scoring chances late in the half and went scoreless for the final 20:53 following junior midfielder Caitlin Gargan's fourth goal of the game. Gargan also added two assists.

Eagles junior midfielder Mikaela Rix led Boston College with six goals and an assist. Rix scored 47 goals in 2013.

"She's great," Walker said. "She had a great game and she came really ready to play. But what I can say is her teammates around her are what made it happen. She's a stand-out player but she has an incredible six other players around her."

Boston College sophomore midfielder Sarah Mannelly added four goals, all unassisted. Stanwick, meanwhile, was held to just a goal and an assist after posting 65 goals and 22 assists last year as a sophomore.

After entering halftime with a 7-7 tie, the Eagles pulled away from the Irish in the second half. Just 10 seconds into the half, Rix took a draw right down the teeth of the Notre Dame defense and scored to give Boston College an 8-7 lead.

The Irish never tied the game again.

Walker said the Eagles did not change much in the second half.

"We just told our girls it was going to be a dogfight until the last minute," Walker said. "Notre Dame's a strong team and we knew we were going to have to fight the whole 60 minutes."

After tallying four goals and three assists in Notre Dame's season-opening 25-1 win over Cincinnati, heralded freshman attacker Cortney Fortunato was held to just one goal on three shots. She added two draw controls and a ground ball.

Walker said the Eagles did not do anything special to disrupt the top recruit in the country.

"She's very athletic," Walker said. "Probably one of the most athletic players I've ever coached or played against or seen. We just put our top defender on her and told her to be as athletic as she possibly could. Cortney is a star so we had to bring our best defender to her."

Halfpenny said the Irish need to get Fortunato more involved on offense, getting her more touches.

For the Irish, sophomore attacker Rachel Sexton scored three goals. She leads the Irish with seven goals in two games.

Notre Dame was Boston College's first of six ranked ACC opponents on its schedule. Walker said opening with the Irish was a good chance to test themselves.

"I think the expectation is the ACC is an incredible conference and Notre Dame sets the standards really high so I think it's a really good opportunity for our girls to see such talent right in the first game," Walker said.

The Eagles return home to play New Hampshire on Wednesday while the Irish prep for a visit from No. 14 Stony Brook next Saturday.

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