The first match of the 2022 Patriot League Tournament saw No. 3 Boston University score three goals in a shutout win over No. 6 Loyola Maryland at Nickerson Field on Sunday afternoon.
After a disappointing loss in their regular season finale, the Terriers (11-8, 6-3 Patriot League) bounced back with a dominant performance on both sides of the ball. Loyola (6-8-4, 3-4-2 PL) came into the game winless in their last four, which included a 3-1 loss against BU just eight days before.
“We were really effective in the final third today, obviously to put three goals in is big time and obviously we value the clean sheet too,” head coach Casey Brown said. “I don’t want to discredit the work we did on the defensive side, the organization, just a real strong mentality.”
Sophomore midfielder Eileen Solomon opened the scoring when BU won a corner kick in the 14th minute. The corner was delivered in by redshirt senior forward Jenna Oldham. Junior forward Abigail McNulty kept the ball alive in the box, and Solomon headed the loose ball into the net, making it 1-0 Terriers.
“Getting a lead early was huge for us,” McNulty said. “We fuel off adrenaline then, and momentum, and it gave us confidence right from the get go.”
McNulty and redshirt senior forward Amy Thompson caused havoc for the Greyhound defense all game, but it was junior midfielder Lily Matthews who doubled BU’s lead just over seven minutes after Solomon’s goal.
Matthews sent a left-footed effort in around 25 yards out from goal. It should have been an easy save for senior goalkeeper Paige Sim, however, the shot bounced off her hands and into the back of the net.
“[Matthews] was awesome. And it’s her birthday too, so I was especially thrilled for her,” said Brown. “She’s always a huge piece for us in terms of our possession, our attack.”
The remainder of the first half saw the Terriers stay aggressive and work down Loyola’s defenders. When called on to defend, BU’s entire backline stayed solid and sophomore goalkeeper Celia Braun went into halftime without needing to make a single save.
The second half was more of the same in terms of Terrier dominance. BU would score just over seven minutes after the restart.
McNulty beat her defender to a cross lofted from sophomore forward Morgan Fagan into the six-yard box. She turned the ball into the net with a sharp header, and any momentum the Greyhounds had coming out of the break was gone in a flash.
“Mentality is the first part. You have to win in your head first, and you have to show up and believe in yourself and believe in your teammates,” McNulty said. “The confidence we played with today was a big key to our success.”
The Terriers have now scored eight goals in their last three games. For a team whose calling card has been their defense, their offense is turning up at the most vital part of the season.
“This time of year, end of October going into playoff season and November, for [our attackers] to be finding the back of the net and us scoring like that is awesome,” Brown said. “But it’s credit to the whole team in terms of just the way we move the ball and what we’re able to create.”
The first-year head coach will look to continue what has been a successful debut season on the touchline when BU heads to Lewisburg, Pennsylvania to face Bucknell University in the semifinals at 7 p.m. this Thursday. The Terriers will look to avenge their loss at the hands of the Bison in last year’s championship game, this time as the underdog.