Women Head To Sweet 16

This weekend saw the women's soccer team move into the NCAA tournament's Sweet 16 round with a pair of shutout victories. The Eagles, now 17-3-2, took their first step on the road to national glory on a cold and dark Friday afternoon, defeating the Harvard Crimson by a score of 1-0.

The first half of the match ended with no score, but it was not for a lack of trying on the Eagles' part. BC took 12 shots, five of them on goal. "We created a lot of early chances that we didn't put away," head coach Alison Kulik said in a postgame interview.

Lauren Mann, Harvard's goalkeeper, made several heads-up plays to frustrate those early chances, including a diving stop in the 37th minute of play that robbed midfielder Hannah Cerrone of a goal. Mann, with five saves in the first half, had to work far harder than BC's goalkeeper, Jillian Mastroianni. Recently named to the 2009 ACC All-Tournament team, Mastroianni was given 45 minutes of relaxation between the posts, as Crimson forward Melanie Baskind took Harvard's lone shot of the half.

The scoring drought would end only thirty seconds into the second half. Forward Brooke Knowlton centered the ball to Victoria DiMartino, who fed Amy Caldwell directly in front of the net. Caldwell tapped the ball into the lower left corner past Mann to put the Eagles on top 1-0. Caldwell's goal remained the only score of the game, as Mastroianni and the Eagles backfield repelled the Crimson attack until the final whistle blew.

BC's next opponent was decided in a match between Boston University and University of Connecticut, which the Huskies won 1-0. Coach Kulik scouted the 7pm match played at the Newton Soccer Field, observing both teams' characteristics to formulate a game plan.

"We'll look for general tendencies, system of play, key players… I think right now, the focus is really on ourselves… We're healthy, we've been playing well."

The focus and preparation paid off for the Eagles on Sunday afternoon in a decisive 2-0 victory over the UConn Huskies (11-8-2). The offense got going sooner than in the Harvard game, with junior Natalie Crutchfield notching her first goal of the season in the 32nd minute of play. Senior Gina DiMartino sealed the win midway through the second half, sending a rebounded shot by Victoria DiMartino past Huskies goalkeeper Ally Mancino and increasing the final score to 2-0.

After the first two rounds of the tournament, the Eagles have outshot their opponents 36-5. The second shutout of the weekend marked the 13th on the season for BC, and the 23rd of goalkeeper Mastroianni's two years as an Eagle. Playing to full potential during the high-pressure postseason can be difficult, but as BC advances to the Sweet 16, the team has shown nothing but the stellar play that has become the norm over the course of their successful regular season schedule.

The Eagles' opponent in the third round of the NCAA tournament will be the Wisconsin Badgers (10-5-6), who defeated Arizona State 0-0 by penalty kicks in the first round and the University of Central Florida 1-0. The two teams have met only once before, with BC losing 5-3 during a regular-season match in 2004. Wisconsin is the sole representative of the Big 10 remaining in the tournament, as opposed to the Eagles, who are one of seven ACC teams who have made it to the Sweet 16.

The Eagles face off against the visiting Badgers at Newton on Friday at 7pm. The match's winner will advance to the Elite 8 to compete against the winner of Friday's match between top-seeded Stanford (20-0-0) and Santa Clara (14-6-2).

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