While its offense has endured hot and cold spells for most of the season, the Boston University women’s soccer team’s defense has been a constant during the first eight games of the year.
The team’s defensive brilliance was never more evident than this weekend, as the Terriers (5-2-1) shut out the University of Connecticut on Friday night and Providence College on Sunday afternoon en route to another successful homestand at Nickerson Field.
“It’s been a wonderful weekend — a really successfully weekend,” said BU coach Nancy Feldman. “There’s nothing wrong with 2-0, especially against UConn and Providence. We’re feeling pretty good about ourselves.”
The Terriers kicked off their homestand against UConn (5-3-0), a team that had shut out its last four opponents. Despite UConn’s imposing backfield and goalkeeping, the Terriers capitalized just three minutes into the contest, as senior midfielder Megan McGoldrick received a pass from senior midfielder Emma Clark and curled home a shot from the top-right corner of the box.
For Feldman, getting on the board early against such a talented squad was a huge boost for the Terriers.
“It was an awesome shot,” Feldman said about the goal. “Goals are hard to come by — we’re not scoring in boatloads, but were also not giving them up, so I think we’ll be a team that’s gonna be like this a little bit until we start getting our ravaging attack in gear.”
While the Huskies held the ball for most of the first half and recorded four shots on goal, they were unable to even up the score, as the Terriers kept their 1-0 lead going into halftime.
The second half was similar to the first 45 minutes of the game, as UConn pressed to tie the game. The Huskies’ best scoring chance came in the 75th minute, as BU senior goalkeeper Andrea Green came out of the net to recover the ball but was beat to it by UConn junior Stephanie Ribeiro, who fired a shot at the empty net. Luckily for BU, junior defender Kai Miller was able to block the shot and preserve the Terrier lead.
While UConn kept up the pressure in the final minutes, the Terriers’ defense held strong and preserved the 1-0 victory.
“Well, it was a great, gutty win,” Feldman said. “I thought we were ferocious in the final third. [UConn] saw some shots from distance, they threatened, and we bent a little bit, but we never broke back there … The heart and effort and guts that we showed — they knew it was an important game.”
“We needed the win if we were going to prove to be an NCAA team. There’s a lot of those games, there’s a lot that are coming up, but this was one that we needed to improve in order to be one of the elite teams.”
BU’s game against the Friars (3-1-2) Sunday afternoon started off in the same vein as the UConn game, as both teams were stuck in a defensive battle. The game would remain scoreless until the 42nd minute, when freshman forward Erica Kosienski made a move past Providence goalkeeper Kristyn Shea and fired into the empty net, giving BU a 1-0 lead.
The goal, coming a week after Kosienski’s game-winning goal against the University of Akron, was her second of the season, tying her with senior forward Madison Clemens for the team lead in goals.
“She’s a goal scorer,” Feldman said. “This is why we committed to her as a student-athlete. She is a kid that just has a nose for the goal and she just doesn’t get discouraged. She just keeps plugging away, and plugging away gave her a goal that wasn’t a pretty touch and turn, but it was a goalscorer’s goal.”
While the Terriers would not score for the remainder of the game, they did not allow Providence to get on the board and retained possession of the ball for most of the second half, making it a comfortable 1-0 victory for BU.
Despite the close score, the Terriers dominated the game, as BU outshot the Friars 17-4 and had five corner kicks to Providence’s zero.
“We played them well, we created nine shots in the first half and eight in the second. We were pretty much playing in their end,” Feldman said. “They’re a hard-fighting team and I thought we did what we wanted to do in the first half in regards to keeping the pressure on them and opening the space up and playing touchline to touchline.”
Despite only scoring two goals during the homestand, Feldman believes that with BU’s defense playing the way it is, the team is in prime position to make a run for the Patriot League championship this season.
“If we can defend like this and like we have, we’re going to win a lot of games, and I think we’re going to be be competing for a Patriot League championship if we keep this attitude defensively,” Feldman said. “I think the attack is going to come along, and we’re going to be even better in goal scoring.”