BC holds its ground in loss to UNC

October, 4, 2009
NEWTON, Mass. -- I've seen a few strange things unfold on a soccer field. North Carolina coach Anson Dorrance has seen far more. So perhaps his take on Thursday's showdown between No. 1 North Carolina and No. 6 Boston College is the place to begin.

"One of the most bizarre games I've ever been a part of in 33 years of coaching," Dorrance said.

The Tar Heels remained undefeated on the season (although for only about 72 hours, after a 1-0 loss at Virginia Tech on Sunday) by virtue of a 2-1 win that included two second-half penalty kicks off Boston College handballs. Both whistles appeared questionable, bordering on dubious, but it's always easy to armchair-quarterback a referee. And in this case, while the result is important in the race for eventual NCAA tournament seeding, it may not be as telling as the game.

Back-to-back, one-goal losses against Florida State and North Carolina notwithstanding, Boston College is a legitimate threat to make the trip to Texas for the College Cup.

"Two great teams, and in my opinion, maybe two top-four teams, battling it out in a very exciting game," Dorrance said. "The other thing I really respect about BC is they attack. Most teams we play bunker back and try and keep the score low. But they had no compunction but to go forward at every opportunity, and they're very dangerous going forward. They have talent all over the field, and I have a lot of respect for them and the way they played against us."

Two years ago, North Carolina escaped a trip to Massachusetts with a 2-1 overtime win on a cross from Meghan Klingenberg that fortune guided into the back of the net. But far more than was the case that night, the Eagles seized opportunities Thursday night to take the game to the opponent, something they can do because of a front five every bit the equal of North Carolina, Stanford, Portland and any other team you want to throw in the mix.

In Gina DeMartino, who missed parts of last season because of obligations to the Under-20 national team, sophomore Julia Bouchelle and senior Brooke Knowlton, the Eagles had a base of offensive talent returning this fall. But the addition of freshmen Victoria DiMartino (Gina's sister) and Kristen Mewis took things to a level that made Thursday's game so compelling.

"Both of them, obviously, have played in a lot of big games, both coming off the U-17 World Cup as two of the top scorers for the U.S. team," Boston College coach Alison Kulik said of her freshmen a week and a half before the North Carolina game. "And they're as proficient as two finishers that I've ever seen and that we've ever had in the program. That certainly has added to our attack. They're two of the reasons why you've seen -- because they're great servers of the ball, too -- why you've seen us score so many multiple-goal games."

Nobody flusters North Carolina's back line of Whitney Engen, Kristi Eveland and Rachel Givan, but Boston College isolated and pushed them to the edge repeatedly Thursday night.

Graham Hays covers college sports for espnW, including softball and soccer. Hays began with ESPN in 1999.



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