The Boston University women’s soccer team marched to the Patriot League Championship final over the weekend, but suffered a crushing 2-1 overtime defeat at the hands of top-ranked Bucknell University on Sunday afternoon. With the loss, BU’s season is virtually over, as the chance for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament is slim at best.
Before that point, BU (9-11-1, 8-1-0 Patriot League) defeated the United States Naval Academy 2-1 in the Patriot League semifinals on Friday night to ultimately face the Bison (16-1-2, 8-1 Patriot League).
Against the Midshipmen (9-11-2, 4-4-1 Patriot League), the Terriers mounted a furious comeback behind a pair of clutch goals from sophomores McKenna Doyle and Julianna Chen. In particular, BU head coach Nancy Feldman said she was especially pleased to see Chen, a Patriot League First Team selection, coming good.
“We all know how important she us to us,” Feldman said. “It’s always nice to see the kids get their special moment in the sun. Now people who judge players based on the box score see how valuable she is.”
While Chen and Doyle stole the spotlight against Navy, BU conceded in the 65th minute. Midshipmen forward Clare MacAdam led forward Ash Fairow toward the goal on a fast break, and the sophomore finished for the 1-0 lead.
Coming out of halftime, and eventually after the Navy goal, Feldman wanted her team to settle down.
“We were playing frantic,” Feldman said. “We were getting away from what we do well. We didn’t have poise or composure. I told the girls to relax and take a deep breath, and I encouraged them to keep applying pressure.”
In the 80th minute, the Terriers struck back, as Doyle beat a Navy defender and ripped a shot past goalkeeper Dayton Wetherby to knot the game at 1-1.
The game-winner came just two minutes later when junior midfielder Jesse Shreck’s free kick found Chen, whose effort beat Wetherby and guided BU to victory.
While BU’s offense spearheaded the comeback, Feldman praised her defense for limiting Navy’s aggressive offense.
“Our defense was huge,” Feldman said. “Individually, we did a good job of winning matchups, and organizationally we did a good job of staying compact. Our backs and keepers kept the game in front of us and didn’t allow [Navy] to create many opportunities.”
Two days after beating Navy victory, BU squared off against Bucknell with a NCAA Tournament appearance on the line.
The Terriers entered the game having won nine straight conference matches and were a perfect 3-0 in Patriot League Championship contests. The first half, however, proved quiet, as neither team could find the back of the net.
In the second half, Feldman strayed from her usual strategy of switching goaltenders at halftime, sticking with senior Bridget Conway for the entire affair.
“Bridget’s goal kicks are stronger,” Feldman said. “Going up against the wind in the second half we felt that was the way to go.”
Bucknell opened the scoring in the 51st minute courtesy of junior Maddie Mulford’s 10th goal of the season. The Bison’s lead was short-lived however, as the Terriers responded a mere 30 seconds later.
Doyle’s cross into the penalty area found freshman Ann Marie Jaworski, who slotted it by Jessica Ratner to tie the match at 1-1 on her first collegiate goal.
“We have great young players,” Feldman said. “For Ann Marie, there is no better time to score your first collegiate goal than a tie game in the championship.”
The rest of regulation saw the Terriers and the Bison have chances to score, but the game would eventually be decided in overtime.
Off an assist from junior Jackie Ham, senior Cora Climo punched home the game-winner in the 95th minute, sending Bucknell to the NCAA tournament and ending BU’s undefeated record in championship games.
It was a bitter end to the season for BU, but Feldman could only describe the legacy of her veteran players in one word: winners.
“They have done a great job of carrying on the great traditions of BU women’s soccer and embraced the young players by leading by example,” Feldman said. “They left it all on the field and today just came up a little short.”