Soccer, Sports

Women’s soccer’s seniors honored, help triumph over Navy

Senior defender Rachel Bloznalis added to her impressive season with a goal Saturday. PHOTO BY KELSEY CRONIN/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
Senior defender Rachel Bloznalis added to her impressive season with a goal Saturday. PHOTO BY KELSEY CRONIN/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

On a day meant to honor the graduating seniors of the Boston University women’s soccer team, it was the senior class who repaid the BU faithful with stellar play against the United States Naval Academy.

The Terriers (8-10-1, 8-1 Patriot League) defeated the Midshipmen (8-10-2, 4-4-1 Patriot League) 2-0 to claim a share of the regular-season title with Bucknell University.

Their triumph over the Midshipmen extended the Terriers’ — and their seniors’ — season for at least one more contest.

Before the game a ceremony took place to honor the Class of 2017, which includes goalkeeper Bridget Conway, defender Rachel Bloznalis, forward Erica Kosienski, defender Ellen Starnes and graduate student midfielder Rachel Blauner.

“The only thing that would have made today better is if all five seniors had scored,” BU head coach Nancy Feldman joked when asked about BU’s victory.

The first goal of the afternoon came from Bloznalis off a corner in the fifth minute. Midshipmen goalkeeper Dayton Wetherby misplayed the ball, and despite playing defense all year, Bloznalis chipped in her third goal this season, which is tied for the team-high.

Bloznalis has been a steady force all season long, and the Terriers’ winning ways really began with the Upton native’s play.

Following an 0-10 start, Bloznalis scored the lone goal in a 1-0 BU triumph over American University, its first victory of the season. That score catapulted the Terriers to their current nine-match unbeaten streak.

“Bloznalis is playing her best soccer this year,” Feldman said. “Since the beginning of the season she has taken such a responsibility to be a leader.”

Following Bloznalis’ opening strike against Navy, BU’s second goal came courtesy of Kosienski.

The Plantsville, Connecticut native found the back of the net in the 71st minute to give the Terriers a more comfortable 2-0 lead.

“In my opinion, Erica is the offensive player of the year in the conference,” Feldman said. “Erica makes us go and if anybody comes and doesn’t see that, they don’t know soccer.”

Saturday marked the second straight match in which Kosienski has scored, adding on to her impressive season statistics. She has seven points to her name this season, good for third-best on the team.

Conway also had a big impact against Navy. As usual, the goalkeeper played the entire first half while her counterpart, junior Hannah Ciolek, took over after halftime. Conway recorded one save and didn’t concede a goal.

The Norwell native has been the model of consistency for Feldman in net during the regular season.

During this current unbeaten run, Conway hasn’t allowed a single goal, lowering her goals-against average against league opponents to a league-low 0.40 and upping her save percentage to a league-best 0.875.

In addition to the play of Conway and Bloznalis, BU has seen inspired play from Blauner, the team’s longest-tenured player.

Recording at least 45 minutes in each game this season, the East Bridgewater native’s biggest moment came in the waning minutes against the University of Loyola-Maryland on Oct. 1.

Blauner’s overtime goal in the 102nd minute was the game-winner in BU’s 1-0 triumph over the Greyhounds (6-6-4, 2-4-3 Patriot League).

The honoring of BU’s graduating group closed with the recognition of Ellen Starnes.

Starnes, who hails from Frisco, Texas, was awarded her first start of the season by Feldman and played a season-high 21 minutes.  

Despite playing sparingly during the 2016 campaign, Feldman lauded what her presence and commitment has meant to her squad.

“She’s a standard setter,” Feldman said. “Somebody has to set the bar and Ellen has been a bar-setter since she got here.”

Feldman will look to Starnes and the rest of the “bar-setters” in the Patriot League semifinal this weekend.

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