After falling in a narrow 1-0 contest against the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., the Boston University women’s soccer team is ready for another tough conference matchup against the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y.
Both the Terriers (5-3-1, 0-1 Patriot League) and the Black Knights (5-4-1, 1-0 Patriot League) will be looking to rebound after their respective losses against Navy (8-2-0, 1-0 Conference) and Binghamton University over the weekend.
These two teams last met back in 1997, when they were competing for the Spalding Club at Oneonta, N.Y. during BU coach Nancy Feldman’s second season as head coach. The Terriers decisively won the contest by a score of 4-1.
Army has continued its impressive turnaround after a dismal 1-3-1 start to the month, outscoring opponents eight to two in its last four games, due in part to the success of forward Kimberly An. The senior recently scored her 13th career game-winning goal against Bucknell University in a 2-1, double-overtime win Saturday, and was honored Monday as the BRINE Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week. She is the second consecutive Black Knight to win the award after sophomore Katie Holder.
Defensively, Army is leaning on the talents of goalkeeper Jordan Cassalia, who has shut out opponents four times this season with a .776 save percentage. The Black Knights have only allowed seven total goals this season.
In the first season under new head coach Marcia McDermott — who had previously scouted for the U.S. National women’s soccer team in the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics — Army has seen significant improvement across the board, and is currently third in the overall conference standings with their best start since 2011.
“[They] present and hold a very fine line,” Feldman said. “They are a team that’s very compressive, so we need to be more organized and decisive with our attack.”
While the Terriers defense has continued to hold strong under senior goalkeeper Andrea Green, who has only allowed five goals in nine games this year, Feldman will be looking to jumpstart an offense that had been previously stalled against Navy. BU only had 11 shots in the contest and did not challenge the Midshipmen’s defense until the 30th minute. BU’s leading scorers, senior forward Madison Clemens and freshman forward Erica Kosienski, only combined for three total shots.
Worse still, the team was called offside six times last Friday — a far cry from BU’s disciplined success during its three game-winning streak, when it blanked University of Connecticut and Providence College at home.
“We didn’t play our best soccer in the first half [against Navy],” Feldman said. “We need to practice and get into attack mode, and then increase our aggressiveness and organization. Getting a bit sharper and having execution in those final moments is crucial. We want to create lots of pressure [on our opponents] … and we need to continue to improve in areas within different lines of plays.”
Feldman also believes that the close loss will renew the Terriers’ own commitments to playing more controlled soccer and continue to emphasize a shared offense by utilizing the unique talents of their team.
“We have continued emphasis on how to finish,” Feldman said. “We want to be prepared. We can’t let our chances get away from us, and at the same time, we don’t want to give chances for the other team either.
“Certainly there’s a level of disappointment [surrounding Friday’s game], but taking things one game at a time is our mentality. There’s nothing we can do except move on. We’re on the right track. The players [know what is expected of them] and are really competitive in both training and in playing, and that mentality will carry us for the rest of the season.”