The Boston University women’s soccer team defeated Harvard University 1-0 on Wednesday night at Nickerson Field for its seventh shutout of the season. The Terriers (6-6-3, 3-3-1 Patriot League) controlled possession throughout the contest while the Crimson (7-6) struggled to break through the BU defense.
Showcasing a very aggressive attacking mindset in the first period, the Terriers were able to jump out to a quick lead.
Senior forward Christina Wakefield pushed the ball into the box off a fast break and delivered a perfectly timed dish to freshman midfielder Anna Heilferty in just the sixth minute.
Throughout the contest, the Terriers were propelled by strong performances from two of their freshmen stars, Heilferty and goalkeeper Amanda Fay.
The pair has so far showed no signs of being overwhelmed by the physical play of the Patriot League, BU head coach Nancy Feldman noted.
“It’s not an easy thing to do,” Feldman said. “There’s a physicality in the game that is greater than what you had in high school and club soccer. These two girls have been exceptional in how … they came in prepared and both of them have some physical strength to them.”
Feldman also praised the air of confidence and experience rarely seen among newcomers to the pressures of college play.
“Their concentration and focus have been above and beyond their years, and therefore they’ve been able to be relatively consistent day in and day out,” Feldman said. “And that’s unusual, and it’s special, and we’re really fortunate.”
As the first period of play came to a close, Harvard picked up its attack.
Avoiding a near disaster in the 43rd minute, the Crimson attack put forth a relentless attempt at the net yet were stifled by Fay and the Terriers stingy defensive backline.
As the second period got underway and the temperature at Nickerson Field dropped, the action on the field heated up. Both sides upped the ante on the attacking end, demonstrating a breakneck pace throughout the period.
On several occasions, Harvard was able to get through the Terrier defense and nearly converted on a late push by Crimson midfielder and back Leah Mohammadi near the 74th minute.
Mohammadi showed off some blazing speed, splitting a triple team from the Terriers. It appeared she would have a clear shot at Fay in net, but played the ball slightly out of her reach and the BU defense recovered to stymie the threat.
Feldman said she was impressed by how her team held off this late rally from Harvard.
“We held on because we were committed, we’re focused, we’re mentally tough and we won our duels,” Feldman said.
Feldman praised junior back Pietra Sweeney’s late defensive stand to keep the Terriers’ lead.
“Pietra right at the end not letting that girl get her service, that’s just digging in and being strong,” Feldman said. “That’s important and that’s going to put us in position to vie for a championship.”
On the offensive end, BU refused to relent, launching shot after shot at Crimson goalkeeper Danielle Etzel. The Terriers ended the night with eight shots on goal and a 20-6 shot advantage.
However, much to the dismay of their head coach, BU was unable to extend the advantage.
“If we can finish our chances a little bit better, we can put teams away that we should put away earlier in the game [and] that should make our lives easier,” Feldman said.
If the Terriers are able to remain focused and avoid getting too far ahead of themselves, a conference title does not seem out of reach.
Currently BU finds itself sitting in the fourth spot of the Patriot League. Although the Terriers are still within reach of the United States Naval Academy who holds the first spot with a 5-0 conference record and a eight-game win streak.
“Now it’s just stepping up and [finishing our chances],” Feldman said. “The time is now for that and that’s going to be important in the remaining conference games.”