Following impressive back-to-back wins against the University of Connecticut and Providence College at Nickerson Field, the Boston University women’s soccer team goes back on the road for the next two weeks, as the Terriers face the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., and the United States Military Academy in West Point, N.Y.
The Terriers (5-2-1) are riding a three-game win streak and will have a chance to overtake Navy (6-2-0) for first place in the Patriot League standings Sunday afternoon. But the Midshipmen have been equally successful recently, coming off big wins against Iona College and High Point University, in which they completed their fourth shutout of the season.
Under the tutelage of junior Morgan Dankanich, who will be looking to score her fifth goal in as many games this weekend, and senior Ashley Soellner, Navy has led the league in every major offensive statistical category, averaging 16.5 shots per game with 19 goals in eight contests.
“They are a very good team,” said BU coach Nancy Feldman. “They are very athletic, very aggressive in the way they play, consistently charging at you and making a lot of goals. It’s going to be a challenge.”
Meanwhile, the Black Knights (4-3-1) are quietly bouncing back after a 1-3-1 stretch earlier in the month that recently continued with a 5-0 rout against University of Rhode Island. Freshman goalkeeper Jordan Cassalia earned a clean sheet for the fourth time this season, and is currently third among goalies in the Patriot League with 28 saves to her credit.
Army has also employed a dynamic attack with sophomore forward Katie Holder and senior midfielder Kimberly An, who are currently second and third respectively in the league for shots and shots per game.
Nevertheless, BU has some key impact players of its own. Junior back Kai Miller was honored as the Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week for her stellar performance against the Huskies, while freshmen forward Erica Kosienski scored her second consecutive Rookie of the Week honor with her game-winning goal in the 1-0 bout against the Friars last week.
Senior goalkeeper Andrea Green continues to hold on to a .857 save percentage — good for third in the league overall — while senior forward Madison Clemens, the league’s preseason Offensive Player of the Year, remains to be a steady presence on her team.
“[Kosienski] has come in as a freshman and proved that she is a force to reckon with,” Feldman said. “[She possesses] a lot of physical and mental tools, and she’s still learning … but she has a natural instinct for the game. And [Miller] is an experienced leader on the field that is tactically very bright.”
Despite all the honors that her players have received, Feldman said what matters most to her is the team’s consistent play and effort.
“We love that we have players that are recognized, but individual awards matter just as much as how well we are performing overall as a group,” Feldman said. “We have to measure up against ourselves . . . and keep taking steps forward to being a stronger team.”
Perhaps no bigger opportunity will arrive than this weekend, as facing Navy and Army in the consecutive weeks will be the first conference games the Terriers will play after moving away from the America East Conference. However, Feldman said she is not worried about the change.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve played something this meaningful,” Feldman said, referring to the disqualification from tournament play following the switch of conferences last year. “But we’re excited and jumping at the bit. We want to make a confident first impression, and let people know we are legitimate. We’ve been waiting for a long time for this moment.”