NCAA, Soccer, Sports

Women’s soccer falls short to Bucknell in Patriot League final

The Boston University and Bucknell University women’s soccer teams were looking to break the 0-0 deadlock as the 2021 Patriot League Championship game entered its 75th minute. Bucknell freshman midfielder Teresa Deda lined up for a corner kick as the crisp fall breeze pierced Nickerson Field, where anxious Bucknell and BU fans were holding their breath. 

Deda kicked the ball into a crowd of players mere inches in front of the net. The chaos led to uncertainty until the official signaled a goal for Bucknell. This goal would be enough for the Bison to walk away as Patriot League champions.

Sophomore forward Abigail McNulty rushes the ball in the Patriot League Championship game against Bucknell University Sunday. The Boston University women’s soccer team concluded their season with a loss to Bucknell by a score of 1-0. JEFF TEDI/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

The Boston University women’s soccer team lost to Bucknell University by a score of 1-0 on Sunday afternoon at Nickerson Field. The game marked the sixth time the Terriers have participated in the Patriot League Championship since joining the division in 2013.

The Terriers (11-6-3, 6-1-2 Patriot League) and the Bison (11-7-3, 5-2-2 PL) met earlier this season on Oct. 16, when they went into double overtime and left with a 2-2 tie. This game marked the only time this season a Patriot League team scored more than one goal on the Terrier defense. BU entered the tournament as the No. 1 seed, while Bucknell was ranked fourth. 

The first two minutes underscored the physicality of the game, as a breakaway ball kicked by Bucknell led to a collision between a Bucknell player and BU junior goalkeeper Gretchen Bennett. Freshman goalkeeper Celia Braun substituted in for the injured Bennett and did not disappoint, as she recorded eight saves. 

“We played two goalkeepers all year, so that’s the benefit of having two keepers that are game ready,” Terrier head coach Nancy Feldman said. “Celia Braun helped get us here and … we had full confidence in [her].” 

The game continued to be physical, with multiple collisions and four yellow cards by the end of the match. 

Both teams began the game by trading scoring opportunities back and forth. An early opportunity came in the ninth minute when Terrier junior forward Marli Rajacich weaved through defenders and loaded up a shot that bounced off of the crossbar. Just over two minutes later, the Terriers had another opportunity as sophomore midfielder Lily Matthews hit junior forward Geovanna Pereira in front of the net, who then rolled a shot just wide left. 

The Bison answered with a few opportunities of their own, including a corner kick from Deda that was sent away by BU junior defender Kayla Ross. As the game went into the 43rd minute, Braun saved a deep shot from Deda to send both teams into halftime tied.

Both teams came out of the locker room after halftime even more determined, as shots were flying left and right. The 53rd minute included another Deda shot that was punched away by Braun. Braun racked up another save as she stopped a corner kick and a follow-up kick from outside of the box. 

The Terriers responded with their own pressure, getting a shot from junior midfielder Julianna Stureman and a breakaway by sophomore forward Abigail McNulty in the 65th and 66th minutes respectively. The Bison halted all momentum as they broke the deadlock in the 75th minute with their aforementioned goal from Deda off a corner kick. 

The Terriers quickly picked up the pace with several shots in the final 10 minutes, but it was not enough as the Bison defense and sophomore goalkeeper Jenna Hall held strong to win the championship. 

In a game of tight defenses and countless opportunities, one goal was all that was needed to end the Terriers’ nine-game undefeated streak. Feldman said she was proud of the Terriers’ effort both in the game and throughout the entire season. 

“I love this team,” Feldman said. “They’re a great group of gals who pour their hearts and souls and minds and sweat and blood and tears into being a BU women’s soccer player and being the best that they can be individually and collectively.”

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