By: Alex Smith
It is official, Boston University and American will square off for the Patriot League title on Saturday at 2 p.m. The two sides faced each other at New Balance Field on October 3rd, with the Terriers winning a hard fought game 5-3.
It certainly wasn’t easy for either of the top seeded teams, as both found themselves behind early, but it was the 1-4 matchup that brought the most excitement.
BU conceded an early goal, with Bucknell’s Emily Goodloe smashing a penalty corner opportunity past a diving Cammy Jensen. Sofi Laurito did manage to pull one back only 57 seconds later, keeping her shot low and firing it into the bodies in front of the net. The ball caught a Bucknell defender and found the bottom right corner.
That was only the beginning for Laurito. Nine minutes into the second half, she burst forward and laid a pass ahead before having it tipped away. Ever the improviser, the Argentine calmly collected the ball after possession was lost and drove it into the roof of the net from just inside the area.
It was a special goal, even by the Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year’s standards. She made perfect contact with backside of her stick, and the shot was rising as it hit the roof of the net. A stranded Emily Finn could only watch the ball rifle past her ear as the senior wheeled away with outstretched arms celebrating her spectacular solo effort.
Despite being crushed 6-0 in the first meeting between the two, the Bucknell Bison would not lay down. They tied the score at two with only 4 minutes remaining through Kierstan Sydnor, who poked home Kayla Sullivan’s pinpoint corner delivery.
Regulation would end that way, and as overtime progressed it seemed more and more likely that the Terriers would suffer a stunning, illogical defeat. BU dominated the game in all aspects, outshooting Bucknell an astounding 21-4 and earling 11 corners to Bucknell’s 6, but still found themselves in search of a game winner.
Laurito nearly scored her third on a corner play, but saw her effort waved off as she and her teammates began to celebrate. Just prior, an injury to Emily Goodloe slowed down proceedings as Terriers had begun to look most threatening.
In the end, though, Laurito was too much for Bucknell. The senior collected the ball from Coll on the restart, and wasted no time spinning upfield. She showed that it isn’t just her skills that set her apart, using her speed to burn past several Bison defenders despite having played every tick of the 90 minutes.
She only had the keeper to beat, and as Finn rushed out to smother the opportunity, Laurito darted to her right. She seemed to hesitate for a moment before smashing a low drive into the bottom left corner to give BU the 2OT win, 3-2.
What I do know, is that BU will face American tomorrow at 2 p.m. What I don’t, is which Laurito goal is my favorite. The first one was nice, but these next two are just otherworldly. BEHOLD:
— PatriotLeagueNetwork (@PatriotLeagueTV) November 6, 2015
— PatriotLeagueNetwork (@PatriotLeagueTV) November 6, 2015
It’s tough to pipe down when you see goals like that, even if they come regularly from BU’s senior star.
American also went down early, and Amanda Magaden’s 13th minute goal for Lafayette was doubled up by a fantastic counterattack. Magaden picked out Kendall Weedling all alone with a 35 yard pass on a break out, and Weedling made no mistake forcing it past McBeath at the near post. Those were the only goals the Leopards would tally, though.
PL Rookie of the Year Rafaela Rubas got American on the board just 3 minutes later with an effort near the top of the area after some nice work by Katie McCormick. Then, just after the buzzer, Rubas cashed in on a corner, unleashing a devastating stinger into the bottom corner. Her stick was the last to touch the ball that half, which gave American all the momentum despite heading into the break knotted at 2-2.
American looked like they might cruise from there, and they initially did. The Eagles dominated the second half’s early possession right up until they earned a penalty stroke, which Natalie Konerth ripped into the bottom left corner to give American the lead for good. They withstood some surprising pressure from Lafayette, who dictated the final ten minutes after sitting back to counter for the first 60.
At that point, Leah DiGiandomenico’s strike two minutes from the game’s close was merely insurance, as American were able to bring in a 4-2 win.
The game offered an interesting tactical clash, with the Leopards never really looking to keep possession. Despite rarely linking more than four or five passes together, the Leopards were only outshot 17-14. Add in an identical corner count of 10 for both sides and you’d have thought the game was more balanced than it often seemed.
The Leopards almost exclusively looked to smash the ball up the sidelines, and on free hits they attempted to bypass the midfield entirely, supplying Magadan and Weedling long balls forward and looking to catch the Eagles out. Their second goal was the best example of their tactical set up, but ultimately they lacked the quality necessary to overcome a strong American side.
Unfortunately, though these two played earlier in the season, the broadcast was rained out. I wanted to stay and watch the game anyway, but was reassigned to women’s soccer. Though I was delighted to call the game, I didn’t see the BU game, nor was it archived.
Despite that, I think after studying up on the team and calling their 4-2 win today, I have a pretty good idea of who they are. They have topped Old Dominion, at the time #16, though it was early on in the campaign.
I see BU edging this one. American loves to attack, and were caught out by the Leopards even after they fell behind 1-0. A player like Grace Boston, who today created several opportunities and forced Starr to start her in the second half, should have a field day getting in behind the defense. Look for Madeline McClain to feature more than average; the forward’s tendencies to sit high up and look for a break out combine with her speed to make her a potentially effective option for coach Starr.
I’ll go 4-3. Terriers won’t need overtime, and Laurito’s fine form should continue to put the Terriers above any Patriot League opposition. A pair of goals from Laurito, and a Rachel Coll goal, and since I suggested it I’ll go with Grace Boston for the fourth. American will score through Rubas, Ami Turner and Jess Davis, who dictated the game from the midfield at times today.