Central Connecticut lost, 3-0, at #10 Boston College in NCAA Tournament first round play. The Eagles, seeded third in their portion of the 64-team, scored on a penalty kick with 1:46 remaining in the first half and added a second goal 2:03 into the second half. Senior Caitlin Hiler and sophomore Brooke Knowlton each factored in two goals for the Eagles. CCSU, playing in its fifth NCAA Tournament in seven seasons, finishes the year at 12-7-4. The Eagles improve to 14-5-2 and will face either Harvard or Northeastern in second round action.
"We came here to win," CCSU head coach Mick D'Arcy said. "We are not new to this environment. Having the opportunity to get here is great, but it hurts to lose."
Hiler opened the scoring with a successful penalty kick effort late in the first half. Sophomore Amy Caldwell drew the foul at the top right of the box with 1:46 left on the clock. Hiler's shot to Blue Devil senior Erin Herd's right found the back of the net. Knowlton posted the second goal at the 47:03 mark, scoring from the center of the 18 box off a feed from Hiler. Freshman Stephanie Wirth put the final goal on the board in the 57th minute. Knowlton assisted on the play.
"The penalty kick was the defining moment of the game," D'Arcy said. "We felt the longer the game went on scoreless the better chance we had to break through. The penalty kick broke our momentum, and the second goal ultimately broke us."
Boston College had the best scoring chance in the opening half's first 15 minutes, but a shot off the foot of sophomore Hannah Cerrone went well wide. Caldwell set up the play, beating the CCSU defense down the right side and played a cross to the middle of the 18. Moments earlier, CCSU junior Rachel Caneen tried to play an early ball into the BC box, but Eagle freshman goalkeeper Jillian Mastroianni reeled in the cross.
The Eagles had a pair of corner kick tries with less than 20 minutes remaining in the half, but neither provided a test for Herd. CCSU cleared a loose ball in front of goal to set up the first. Junior Karise Hilt headed the first out, and the second did not result in a shot on goal. Boston College junior Kelly Henderson registered the eighth Eagle shot of the opening half with just over 13 minutes showing on the clock. Her effort from just outside the 18 sailed high.
Central Connecticut drew a foul deep in the left corner of BC's half of the field with less than 10 minutes remaining, but junior Leah Blayney's ball into the box was headed clear.
Senior Hannah Bromley's effort off a free kick accounted for the only Blue Devil shot during the game's first 45 minutes. The Eagles had nine shots and six corner kicks.
"We thought we marked them well in the first half," Blue Devil sophomore captain Clio Tregear said. "It's tough to give up a penalty kick, but we had to keep going in the second half."
Boston College added to its lead a little more than two minutes into the second half when Knowlton scored to Herd's left from about 15 yards out. Central Connecticut had a chance to cut the 2-0 deficit in half with 37:17 remaining in the game. Caneen found junior Leah Blayney just outside the 18, but Blayney's effort went off the crossbar.
The Eagles stretched their advantage to 3-0 in the 57th minute. Knowlton got around the Blue Devil defense inside the 18 and played it back to Wirth, who chipped it over Herd to the left post from inside the six.
Caneen tested Mastroianni with a little less than 29 minutes left. She tried to go far post from inside the left of the 18, but Mastroianni made a sliding stop. Blayney had a shot deflect off a BC defender into Mastroianni's arms with less than 10 minutes remaining, and Caneen again challenged from inside the 18. Mastroianni preserved the shutout with her third save.
"We never stopped," D'Arcy said. "We had a never say die attitude. Our entire team played with a first class attitude all the way to the end."
Boston College, which had defeated CCSU, 1-0, earlier this season, had 17 shots and 12 corner kicks. Mastroianni had three saves in her ninth shutouts of the season. CCSU had five shots and one corner kick. Herd had six saves in her final collegiate contest. The Coffs Harbour, Australia native finished the season with an 8-3-4 record. She posted eight shutouts.