The Boston University women’s soccer team kept its season alive Saturday afternoon by overcoming Harvard University 1-0 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Terriers (15-3-4, 8-1-0 Patriot League) were involved in yet another dramatic matchup with the Crimson (12-4-2), needing a goal from freshman forward Erica Kosienski in the second half to prevail.
This is BU’s fourth time making the second round of the bracket, which will be played Nov. 22.
Saturday’s contest began with a competitive balance in the midfield and each side won its fair share of 50-50 balls. The only breakthroughs in the first half were stifled by elite defenses. In the regular season, the Crimson were second in the Ivy League in goals allowed (15).
BU was first in the Patriot League in that category (seven), led by sophomore defender McKenzie Hollenbaugh and junior defender Kai Miller.
If anything, the Terriers established a slight edge in the first half. In the 16th minute, BU won a free kick just outside of the 18-yard-box, and junior forward Taylor Krebs hit a wide-open shot that rose just above the crossbar.
In the 20th minute, senior forward Madison Clemens flicked a ball past the final Crimson defender, which led to a one-on-one opportunity with Harvard goalkeeper Cheta Emba. Emba won the battle, though, by collapsing on Clemens’s shot attempt.
Much of BU’s game plan coming into the match focused around limiting freshman Margaret Purce’s opportunities. Purce was named both Offensive Player of the Year as well as Rookie of the Year in the Ivy League after scoring a league-high tally of 11 goals. During these teams’ meeting on Oct. 10, it was Purce that delivered the equalizer for Harvard in the second half.
Purce’s best attempt of the game came in the 34th minute when she chipped a ball over a BU defender. With her next touch, Purce hit a low shot that landed right in the arms of senior goalkeeper Andrea Green.
As a leader of the team, Green said she was aware of the intensity that would be required of them.
“I think we were all excited about today,” Green said. “We knew it was going to be a tough competition. We just wanted to play the way we play and be ready for anything.”
In the second half, BU crept closer to scoring a goal. A Terrier corner kick in the 61st minute found senior midfielder Megan McGoldrick, whose shot was blocked by the Harvard defense. Then, Clemens headed the rebound towards the net, but Harvard backup goalkeeper Lizzie Durack saved it.
The game’s only goal came in the 76th minute. Senior midfielder Kylie Strom made a run through the middle of the pitch toward the 18-yard box, where she played a ball past two Harvard defenders into the path of Kosienski. The outstretched Kosienski latched onto the ball and poked a shot past Durack into the far corner of the net.
That goal for Kosienski, who was named Patriot League Rookie of the Year, was her seventh game-winner of the season.
“Coming in with the energy that the team already has, it’s not hard to get pumped up,” Kosienski said about coming on as an impact substitute. “[The starters are] the reason I get the chances that I do, and it wouldn’t have happened without them.”
As the game neared its end, the Terriers managed the remaining time by trapping the ball in the corner of the field. Once the clock hit zero, BU’s bench cleared as the players embraced each other in celebration.
“As we’ve done all season long, we persisted and stayed with what we wanted to do,” said BU coach Nancy Feldman. “Harvard’s a great team with some wonderful attacking personalities. I thought our kids did a great job of keeping them under wraps. It was a great team effort.
“From the number one player on the roster, to the number 28 player on the roster, everybody was a part of this one.”