When the Boston University women’s soccer team faced off against Harvard University on Oct. 8 at Nickerson Field, the Terrier defense found itself at the mercy of Crimson forward Margaret Purce. She constantly broke through the BU defense to create opportunities for her and her teammates and scored a goal in the 1-1 draw.
Saturday afternoon, the venue and teams remained the same, but the storyline took a different turn, as the Terriers (15-3-4, 8-1-0 Patriot League) shut down Purce and the Crimson (12-4-2) to preserve a 1-0 victory and a trip to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
From the start, BU made it a point to contain Purce. Most of the job fell on the shoulders of junior defender Kai Miller and sophomore defender McKenzie Hollenbaugh, who each made several saving tackles during the game, but all of the Terriers contributed. to defending the star freshman.
“We wanted to be close enough to her when she got the ball so that she wasn’t able to get up a head of steam [because] she’s really fast and once she gets going, she’s hard to stop,” said BU coach Nancy Feldman.
“I thought we were disciplined about doing that and we also talked about help coming. We didn’t want more than one help player coming, but I think everyone wants to help when they know their teammate is isolated with a player like that. I thought we did limit her chances. She’s an excellent player.”
Purce, who is a member of the U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Soccer Team, was recently named Ivy League Rookie of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year after scoring 11 goals and tallying four assists in 17 games. She led the Crimson to their first Ivy League title since 2011. The goal she scored against the Terriers in their first meeting was the first and only goal that BU has given up all season at home.
The Terriers held Purce to only three shots throughout the contest. Her one shot on goal came in the 33rd minute when she fired a weak attempt at senior goalkeeper Andrea Green from right outside the 18-yard box. Purce did show a flash of brilliance midway through the second half when she played a perfect ball across the face of the goal, but no Crimson players were able to connect with Purce’s cross, and the ball rolled out of bounds.
Although the Terriers made a special effort to contain Purce, the team did not alter its overall game plan and style of play. It was clear from the opening whistle that Harvard was looking to play through balls to Purce and forwards Elizabeth Weisman and Karly Zlatic, but the Terriers held strong, dominating possession in the midfield.
“Throughout the whole season, what’s been so special about this team is that we’ve been really confident in the way that we play and our style,” senior midfielder Kylie Strom said.
In the end, it was BU’s own rookie sensation, freshman forward Erica Kosienski, who provided the game-winning goal in the 76th minute of play. Strom found herself at the left side of the 18-yard box and played a ball in behind the defense for the charging Kosienski to run on to and touch past Harvard keeper Lizzie Durack and into the net.
Feldman said she was proud of her entire team’s effort in the game, particularly when considering BU’s opponent.
“We were aggressive and composed and patient for the most part and played as a team,” Feldman said. “It was a great team effort.”