A last-minute goal saw the Boston University women’s soccer team clinch a 2-1 come-from-behind win against conference rivals Lafayette University at Nickerson Field Saturday afternoon in a thrilling and nerve-racking start to Patriot League play.
With the sun beaming down on Nickerson Field, the Terriers (4-4-1, 1-0 Patriot League) managed to secure a brace despite an early one-goal deficit that saw the team play on the back foot for much of the first half.
The Leopards (2-5, 0-1 PL) took the lead after just 12 minutes of regulation when the ball found its way inside the box following a set piece free kick by sophomore midfielder Emily Coe. Despite her first effort to clear the ball from danger, BU freshman goalkeeper Celia Braun watched as it landed at the feet of junior forward Melissa Lamanna and sailed back past the Terrier’s guard and into the net.
The Terriers, who entered the game with a perfect 4-0 record against the Leopards at home, were visibly shaken by their opponent’s early gains and found themselves struggling to move the ball out of their territory for the remainder of the first half.
Head coach Nancy Feldman also orchestrated nine substitutions in those 45 minutes of play, a clear sign of frustration as she attempted to piece together a winning formula that would save face in front of a deflated home crowd.
“I thought we were sleepwalking in the first half,” Feldman said postgame. “I was trying to find a solution. Sometimes it’s because the game calls for someone’s need of rest … I was actually trying to find the answers, to tell you the truth.”
The second half of the game told a different story. With the woes of a blundering first half behind them, the Terriers emerged from the locker room with newfound confidence and determination to win.
“It just didn’t feel like we were setting the tempo or dictating what was happening to us,” Feldman said. “I challenged the players. They needed to take a little bit more individual accountability to make a difference in the match.”
Sophomore forward Abigail McNulty proved to be a constant threat on the left wing as she bullied past the Leopards’ defense time and time again, setting up opportunistic crosses and taking a few shots on goal.
The Terriers were finally rewarded when senior forward Amy Thompson managed to secure her first-ever goal for the team in the 78th minute following a turnover caused by McNulty and a pass set up by freshman forward Morgan Fagan just 10 yards out from the posts.
With the clock winding down on the 90 minutes of play left, the Terriers were determined to keep the game out of overtime and maintain their perfect home record against the Leopards. The shift in momentum was palpable as Lafayette desperately tried to mount a defense against a flurry of aggressive attempts. But it was only a matter of time before BU found the net yet again.
With just 75 seconds of play remaining, the Leopards successfully stopped McNulty from taking a shot, but the ball ricocheted toward Thompson, who swooped in and sent a long-range strike past junior goalkeeper Natalie Neumann’s hands and into the top left corner of the net.
With the brace to her name, Thompson and the Terriers remained composed for the closing moments of the game before celebrating the hard-fought victory at the close.
“[I’m] just so proud of this team,” Thompson said. “Both my goals, I was here to finish, but it was just a team effort and everyone played a part.”
Despite its early troubles, BU ended the game with a total of 15 shots compared to Lafayette’s eight and improved its lifetime record to 8-1-1 against the Leopards.
“What’s really unique about this team is we stick together,” Thompson said. “That’s how we’re going to win games.”
BU will conclude its three-game homestand against conference rivals Colgate University at Nickerson Field on Sept. 22 at 7 p.m.