The Boston University women’s soccer team has been truly consistent this season when it comes to defense, especially at home — on its own turf this season, BU has not allowed any goals in five contests.
The trend of stifling defense continued this weekend as the Terriers (5-2-1) hosted the University of Connecticut on Friday and Providence College on Sunday. BU allowed a total of eight shots on goal between the two contests.
BU coach Nancy Feldman attributed the Terriers’ success to three key areas: goalkeeping, solid play at the center-back position and the team’s dedication on the defensive end.
“We’ve got pretty good goalkeeping in [senior] Andrea [Green] and [junior Alyssa Parisi],” Feldman said. “We’ve got two of the best center backs this side of the Mississippi. They are excellent. That’s it. And [we have a] commitment to team defending. At the end, those players on the pitch, they had enough legs and determination … our team is really committed to it. It’s really a combination of all those three things.”
In Friday’s game against UConn (6-3-0), BU allowed only six shots on goal. Sunday against Providence (3-2-2), the Terriers were even more stifling, as they allowed a meager four shots, only two of which made it on goal.
Green was tested in the late minutes of the game against Providence, as the Friars very nearly were able to score in the 77th minute. After a free kick, the ball was passed around a few times before being whipped on target by defender Allison Walton. Green dove to stop the threat, preserving the Terriers’ fifth straight shutout and Green’s fourth of the season.
“Andrea came up with a big save in a moment where we let a shot happen,” Feldman said. “We pride ourselves in not allowing any contested shots, and we let it happen. It’s going to happen once in a while, and you need your goalkeeper to come up with a big one when it’s 1-0 or 0-0, when you’re dominating a team, particularly, because that can be crushing.”
One of the aforementioned center backs crucial to the Terriers’ stifling defense is sophomore defender McKenzie Hollenbaugh. Following Friday’s matchup, Hollenbaugh gave her perspective as to the Terriers’ home success.
“I think one of our strengths is not letting teams get behind us and I think that’s a big part of why we keep the ball out of the net,” she said. “It’s just that we’re not letting them send balls over. We’re keeping the play in front and just really digging in.”
Last season, Hollenbaugh became an essential part to the Terrier defense, as she started in 10 of her 15 games played. With her solid play on defense, she was named to the America East All-Rookie Team. Thus far this season, Hollenbaugh has started in all eight games, earning Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week for the week of Sept. 3.
Alongside the strength of Hollenbaugh is another strong defender in senior defender Erin Mullen. During the 2012 campaign, Mullen made 17 starts for the Terriers, keeping a strong defense along the way. With her solid play in the back, she was named to the America East All-Conference Second Team.
In her final season with the Terriers, Mullen has anchored the defense — something that has helped Green in posting five shutouts at home. With sustained pressure on ball carriers, Mullen and the Terrier defense held the Friars to only two shots on net and allowed no corner kicks throughout the entire contest.
“It was tough, but it was fun,” Hollenbaugh said of the weekend series. “I live to play defense, it’s what I love to do, and they give you a challenge, but challenges are always what you want to get up to. It’s great to play girls that are going to challenge you … you’re going to test their strength against yours.”