Soccer, Sports

W. soccer set to meet defending champions

After its win in the America East championship game last Saturday, the Boston University women’s soccer team will face defending national champion and No. 9 University of Southern California in the first round of the NCAA Tournament tonight at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.
This trip to the NCAA Tournament will be the Terriers’ seventh in their history, and if they win tonight it will mark the third time they have reached the second round. The Terriers have never advanced past the second round.
BU coach Nancy Feldman said the Terriers have prepared for this game unlike any other.
‘We try to recognize what their strengths are and find a way to slow them down,’ Feldman said. ‘We also need to make sure we’re committed to play our style by making them defend us. It’s a soccer game. It’s no different game than we’ve played all season long.’
The Terriers hope their current winning streak will give them the momentum they need to beat USC, the No. 4 overall seed in the tournament. USC finished third in the Pacific-10 Conference.
USC has found success with a potent offense this season. The Trojans have scored an astounding 48 goals, with eight players finding the back of the net four or more times.
Senior forward Amy Rodriguez’s eight goals lead the Trojan offense. Rodriguez was a starter on the women’s U.S. Olympic team this summer in Beijing, and she scored the game-winning goal in Team USA’s match against Brazil.’
Feldman said that although Rodriguez poses a considerable threat, the defense will not cater to her specifically.
‘We have to defend the offense as whole. You can’t start man-marking everybody,’ Feldman said. ‘They have a couple of great players and [Rodriguez] is one of them, but we’ll be defending them as a unit.’
Although offense has been the most obvious strength of USC’s team, the defense has also held its own. USC has held opponents to a mere 16 goals on the year and allowed only 165 shots.
USC’s defensive weakness mirrors that of BU: Both falter late in games. USC has allowed 10 goals in the second period ‘-‘- half the number it has surrendered in the first period. The Trojans have yielded one goal in overtime.
Though USC’s defense may have some holes, the Terriers might need to figure out how to score goals without senior midfielder Marisha Schumacher-Hodge. Last week against Stony Brook University, Schumacher-Hodge elevated for a ball and collided with a defender mid-air, landing on her lower back in an awkward position. She could not stand on her own power and needed to be assisted off the field.
Feldman said she still does not know if the America East Midfielder of the Year will play tonight.
‘Right now, she’s not 100 percent,’ Feldman said. ‘We’ll see whether she can play, but it’s still a big question mark.’
If Schumacher-Hodge does not play, the Terriers will rely heavily on other key players in the offense. Last week, junior forward Farrell McClernon took over Schumacher-Hodge’s role in the midfield for a short time and sophomore midfielder Corie Halasz remained at the position for most of the game.
Halasz seemed to be a suitable replacement for Schumacher-Hodge last Saturday, creating space for the offense to work and breaking a scoreless tie in BU’s 2-1 win over Stony Brook in the conference title game.

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