The Boston University’s women’s soccer team will end its three-game homestand tomorrow at Nickerson Field as it prepares to face Harvard University. The Terriers are coming off a masterful effort having defeated Lehigh University 3-0 this past Saturday.
The Crimson (6-3-1), however, will test the recent success of the Terriers (8-3-1, 3-1-0 Patriot League) after the two teams drew in their last match last season. The tough result came after each side battled through two overtimes.
“We learned they’re a really good team,” said BU coach Nancy Feldman of last year’s game. “They’ve got a strong midfield athletically. We’re going to have to be really organized defensively to make sure they don’t get any balls behind us.”
While the Crimson provided a challenge to the Terriers in Cambridge during their last encounter, tomorrow’s match will take place at Nickerson Field, where BU is undefeated.
The Terriers boast a 6-0-1 record at home this season, which includes five straight wins. In addition, BU has only conceded one goal in its last four games, which occurred in its 1-0 loss to the U.S. Naval Academy Sept. 20.
In its win against Lehigh, BU excelled offensively in the second half after failing to make a mark on the game in the first 45 minutes. The Terriers displayed a well-rounded effort, with goals coming from senior forward Madison Clemens, senior midfielder Megan McGoldrick and junior midfielder Jamie Turchi.
“Our attack is starting to be much more aggressive,” Feldman said. “Our attackers are playing a little bit more aggressively in getting into the box and going for goal. The emphasis has been playing at a higher speed. I think we’ve seen more shots and goals because of it.”
Clemens has been a major contributor for the Terriers in their last two victories, as three of BU’s six goals in those two games were scored by Clemens, who now leads the team with five for the season. Clemens is also now second in the Patriot League in that category.
“[I’m expecting] more of the same,” Feldman said of Clemens’ play. She’s focusing herself on driving into the box, facing defenders, running without the ball. You’re not going to score goals when you’re comfortable. You’re going to score goals when you’re on the edge, when you separate yourself from very good players. I think she’s found her confidence, and she deserves it, she’s on a good stretch.”
On the other end of the pitch, the Terriers have seen tremendous play from senior goalkeeper Andrea Green. Green, who has played in 11 out of BU’s 12 games, leads the Patriot League with both a 0.38 goals-against average as well as a .875 save percentage.
However, BU’s defensive stand this season has been a team effort, as the Terriers rank first in the conference with five goals allowed in 12 games played.
The Crimson have been strong this season, lifted by the dominance of freshman Margaret Purce. Purce has six goals on the year, which is a team best and second in the Ivy League.
The Crimson are coming off of a 3-1 victory against their rivals, Yale University. Purce clinched the win with a goal in the 84th minute, as Harvard earned its second league triumph of the season.
Overall, Harvard is having a strong year offensively and is second in the Ivy League with 1.80 goals per game.
While this game is BU’s first non-conference fixture since Sept. 15, Feldman said that the Terriers do not plan on altering their mindset.
“Every game’s meaningful, you only get 20 of them,” Feldman said. “Every time you play a game you should be motivated because they’re special. You don’t get many of them. Also, we look at ourselves as being in a decent spot to get an at-large bid [for the NCAA Tournament], and to do that we need to keep winning non-conference games.”
Although Feldman recognized the challenge that her squad faces tomorrow, she said she holds an optimistic outlook on the Terriers’ development.
“It’s going to be a tough match, they’re one of the better Ivy [League] teams,” Feldman said. “We need to get better at dealing with pressure and having a purposeful attack, but it’s a work in progress. We’re better now than we were at the beginning of the season.”