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Women’s soccer shines in debut season in Patriot League

FALON MORAN/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF Junior defender Kai Miller was named to the All-Patriot League First Team this season.

Junior defender Kai Miller was named to the All-Patriot League First Team this season.

In its first season as a member of the Patriot League, the Boston University women’s soccer team took the conference by storm, winning the conference title and advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Terriers (15-4-4, 9-0-2 Patriot League) entered the 2013 campaign as preseason favorites to take home the Patriot League title. From the start, BU set its sights on accomplishing team goals rather than individual ones.

“We’re fortunate we had good leadership,” said BU coach Nancy Feldman. “We had a great camaraderie within the team. We had a great group of gals that all had one mission and one goal in mind, that really went above and beyond everybody’s personal priorities.”

To open the season, the team faced off against several non-conference opponents. BU recorded key wins over Northwestern University, Providence College and the University of Connecticut, while dropping close contests to Boston College and Penn State University.

After a tough 1-0 loss to the U.S. Naval Academy on Sept. 20 to open up Patriot League play, the Terriers went on a 13-game unbeaten streak in which they conceded only two goals, helping them claim a share of the regular season conference title heading into the Patriot League Tournament.

Receiving a first-round bye in the conference playoffs, BU faced off against Colgate University in the semifinal game in Annapolis, Md. The match was hard-fought, and neither team could find the back of the net through 120 minutes of action.

During the ensuing penalty-kick shootout, senior goalkeeper Andrea Green came up huge for the Terriers, stopping one shot and forced two other shooters to miss the net to win the shootout 4-1 and advance to the championship match.

The final match served as a chance for the Terriers to avenge their early regular season loss to the Midshipmen (16-5-0, 8-1-0 Patriot League). Both teams entered the match on a high, riding double-digit winning streaks.

With the game scoreless, freshman forward Erica Kosienski broke through the Midshipmen defense in the 42nd minute, hitting a shot off of a throw-in that blew past Navy goalkeeper Elizabeth Hoerner. The goal secured a 1-0 victory and a conference tournament victory for the Terriers.

“The Patriot League Championship was definitely something we were shooting for,” Feldman said. “We were denied an opportunity to play in the [America East Conference] Tournament last year and that was disappointing. It kind of fueled a fire in all of us. We wanted to get after it this year.”

Shortly after the win, the Terriers found out that they would be facing Harvard University at Nickerson Field in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The two teams had met previously Oct. 8, a match that went to double overtime and resulted in a 1-1 draw.

Much like the previous meeting, the playoff game between the Terriers and the Crimson (12-4-2) was a tight contest. Neither team found its way onto the scoreboard until senior forward Kylie Strom slipped a ball to Kosienski, who slid the ball into the net in the 76th minute to give the Terriers a 1-0 lead and victory to earn a berth to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

In the next round of the NCAA playoffs, the Terriers battled against then-No. 9 Santa Clara University (16-4-2) in Blacksburg, Va. The Broncos caught BU off guard in the game’s opening minutes, as forward Sofia Huerta scored to give Santa Clara a 1-0 lead just two minutes into the contest.

BU would fight back, however, taking control of possession and recording six shots throughout the first half. After getting the momentum back, Strom netted the equalizer in the 42nd minute off a pass from Kosienski.

The intensity of the match grew as the game entered the second half, with three yellow cards being issued, as the Broncos and the Terriers each tried to gain an edge.

In the 76th minute, forward Morgan Marlborough put the Broncos over the Terriers for good, hitting a rebound shot that fell into an open net. The score would remain the same and the loss ended BU’s season.

Although they gave up two goals in a losing effort in the tournament, the Terrier defense, anchored by Green, was particularly solid throughout the playoffs and the regular season. BU led the Patriot League in goals-against average at .38 and boasted a program-record 16 shutouts, while remaining undefeated at Nickerson Field. Green posted a .865 save percentage, a leading mark in the NCAA and also led the conference in shutouts with 12.

“Our philosophy of defending is that it doesn’t come down to one person,” Feldman said. “It doesn’t come down to the goalkeeper.  It doesn’t come down to the center backs. It comes down to every player on the team daily having a commitment to defend, paying attention to the details, paying attention to organization and then giving a little bit extra.

“You have to really extend yourself a little bit more than what’s comfortable in situations on the field. That’s kind of the mentality that the players had. We played some very, very good teams and we held those teams close. That’s pretty tremendous.”

The Terriers were strong on the defensive side, but they also outscored their opponents 28-9 on the year. Kosienski, who was named Patriot League Rookie of the Year, came off the bench to lead the Terriers in scoring, tallying eight goals and two assists. The Plantsville, Conn., native’s magic often came in clutch situations, as she scored seven game-winning goals in her rookie campaign.

Senior forward Madison Clemens also was the recipient of a conference accolade, getting named to the Patriot League All-Conference First Team after notching six goals and posting one assist for the Terriers.

Several other Terriers received All-League honors for their efforts throughout the season. Along with Clemens, senior midfielder Emma Clark and junior defender Kai Miller were named to the All-League First Team. Kosienski, Strom, Green and sophomore McKenzie Hollenbaugh took home Second Team hardware. For her efforts, Feldman was voted Patriot League Coach of the Year.

Despite the tough loss to the end the season, Feldman said she was pleased with her team’s effort.

“I feel like we most definitely met every expectation we set,” Feldman said. “Internally with our team, we set goals of what we believed we are capable of accomplishing and what we are shooting for. We knew it was going to be a really lofty challenge going into the conference and not really knowing what to expect, but we knew enough to know that it was reasonable. The kids did it.

“We were disappointed that we couldn’t get to the next round [of the NCAA Tournament], but all in all, if I look at the game and I look at our performance, really from start to finish this season, but certainly at the end, I don’t think I could have asked for anything more out of the players and I don’t think they could have asked anything out of themselves or each other. I think they played as well as possible and played together.

“We were all in this whole season, which was really a joy to coach. I had a lot of satisfaction in how they finished up.”

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