Soccer, Sports

Terriers stretch unbeaten streak to six games

Usually, in soccer, when you outshoot a team 16-3, earn twice as many corner kicks and keep the ball in the attacking zone far longer than your opponent, you do not just expect to beat that team. You expect to beat them big.
But, despite the fact the Boston University women’s soccer team (9-5-1, 4-0-0 America East) controlled just about every facet of Sunday’s contest with the University of Maine (5-3-5, 2-2-1), it narrowly escaped the showdown by a 1-0 margin at Nickerson Field.
The Terriers pressured Maine’s sturdy ‘-‘- though conservative ‘-‘- defense from the opening kick, not allowing the Black Bears to move the ball into the attacking zone in the game’s first 10 minutes.
And yet, it took the Terriers 51:44 to finally toe one across the goal line, when a corner kick by sophomore Lina Cords deflected off a Black Bear defender to the feet of senior Marisha Schumacher-Hodge, who buried the ball in the back of the net.
For Schumacher-Hodge – who led the Terriers with 14 points last season – goals have been tough to come by in the 2008 campaign. The Pittsburgh, Penn., native has notched just two goals on the season, both of which came after a meeting she had with BU coach Nancy Feldman Oct. 4. The day after the meeting, Schumacher-Hodge scored her first goal of the season in a 4-0 win over the University of Vermont.
‘Pretty much, [Feldman] told me that I’ve been getting a lot of chances, I just need to really believe in my shots that I take,’ Schumacher-Hodge said. ‘I needed to just will it more. When you take a lot of shots [and they don’t go in] you start to lose confidence and you start to get discouraged. Her telling me that kind of changed my mentality.’
‘I think it gave [Schumacher-Hodge] some confidence that I believe that she can be a goal-scoring threat,’ Feldman said. ‘I think we have her believing in her ability to strike the ball firmly and be a finisher for our team. Sometimes, you just have to say something that builds a player’s confidence, as opposed to coaching them and telling them what they might have to do differently. Some of it’s just, ‘I believe in you, now you have to believe in yourself a little more.’
‘Her play has been consistent throughout the season. Her attacking and defending has been consistent. It’s her play around the area of the goal where I think she’s been at another level of confidence ‘-‘- to look for her shot, and when she finds her shot, to believe in her shot and believe she’s going to put it in the back of the net.’
At the half, BU made the adjustment of letting Cords, rather than Schumacher-Hodge, take the team’s corner kicks. The move, which was actually the idea of back Shannon Mullen, was made because the Black Bears were heavily defending corners by the near post, where Schumacher-Hodge usually aims her kicks.
Cords, who has a strong leg, is more capable of consistently booting the ball to the far post and her extra power made the difference in netting the Terriers’ game-winner.
BU struggled to solve the Maine defense for most of the game, and despite generating 16 shots, the Terriers managed to put just five of those shots on goal. The struggles, according to junior Emily Pallotta, were a result of Maine’s air-tight defense in the box, which prevented the Terriers from being able to find clear shooting lanes.
‘[Maine] really prides themselves on being defense-minded,’ Pallotta said. ‘They try to be very direct and try to get services in early, which makes it tough to get shots off when they’re just trying to play kickball, and they’re getting everything they get their foot on out.’
‘[Maine’s] extremely organized defensively,’ Feldman said. ‘On crossed balls, any player going in was going to pretty much get mugged. I mean, it was within the rules of the game, but they were really blanketed.
‘We were very patient ‘-‘- I thought that was a good thing. We stretched them and spread it and were thoughtful about how we were going to create opportunities, but I also think we might not have been as dynamic with as much energy to separate ourselves like we have in other games, which was maybe just a little bit of fatigue.’

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