Despite a physical match, the Boston University women’s soccer team managed to hang on for a 1-0 victory over the University of Maine yesterday in the semifinal round of the America East Tournament at Nickerson Field.
The top-seeded Terriers (15-5-1, 9-0-0 AE) had to deal with an aggressive Black Bear team that induced 14 fouls ‘-‘- nine of which came in the second half. Terrier fans showed their displeasure by mercilessly booing both the fifth-seeded Black Bears (7-7-7, 4-4-3) and the officiating crew at various points during the contest.
Junior midfielder Emily Pallotta said the Terriers handled themselves well despite being constantly jostled by Maine.
‘It shows a lot of experience our team has,’ Pallotta said. ‘A lot of our team is upperclassmen who have been in high pressure situations like this. For us to keep our focus and keep being aggressive, even when it gets a little chippy, shows our team has a little extra push and poise.’
The Terriers netted the winning goal in the 54th minute on senior midfielder Marisha Schumacher-Hodge’s shot from three yards out. The Pittsburgh, Pa., native was left one-on-one with Maine goalkeeper Jasmine Phillips inside the six-yard box when two Black Bear defenders misplayed a long cross by Pallotta.
‘A defender headed it in the center of the 18[-yard box], and I figured they would make a mistake, so I just went for it,’ Schumacher-Hodge said. ‘I think there was a little miscommunication [amongst the defenders].’
Although the Terriers put just one ball across the goal line, they had plenty of scoring opportunities during the game. The offense took 20 shots ‘-‘- 10 of which were on goal. BU forced seven corner kicks and kept the ball on Maine’s side of the field for the majority of the contest.
BU struggled to finish its shots, as the Terriers had the ball at point-blank range on several occasions and missed.
BU coach Nancy Feldman told her team to speed up the game in the second half to create more opportunities, hoping one of them would lead to a score.
‘I thought we had some good ideas in the first half, but we weren’t doing things quite as fast as we needed to,’ Feldman said. ‘I thought we could penetrate centrally and not just rely on wide play. It’s a great way to attack, but if it’s the only way to attack I thought we were predictable.’
The defense also brought its A-game, allowing just one shot on goal. It wasn’t until the game’s final stages that Maine finally established any sort of offense, as BU faltered against a desperate Black Bear attack.
In one instance, sophomore goalkeeper Janie Reilly, who barely touched the ball, made a diving stop to save the game from going into overtime.
‘Unfortunately, it’s part of my position to stand back and wait for something to happen,’ Reilly said. ‘Basically, I saw the girl’s leg cock back and I have to set and go. I have to try and stay focused.’
With second-seeded Stony Brook University’s 2-0 win over sixth-seeded Binghamton University in last night’s semifinal, the Terriers will play the Seawolves in next Saturday’s conference championship game at Nickerson Field.
Feldman said she has a variety of tactics planned to prepare her players for the match.
‘Our training level has to be kept high,’ Feldman said. ‘We may lift a day or get in the pool just to stay fresh and train three days. We’re going to watch video from today’s game and Stony Brook. As a coach at this time of year, you just want them to be healthy, fresh and mentally ready to go.’