The quest for their fourth consecutive Patriot League Tournament Title and NCAA Tournament appearance came up short for the Boston University women’s soccer team Sunday afternoon in Lewisburg, Penn., as the Terriers lost on a golden goal to the top-seeded Bucknell Bison.
Exactly a year after Chelsea Churchill delivered a game winning goal to oust Bucknell in the 2015 PL Title game at Nickerson Field, the Bison delivered the same blow, capturing their year-long revenge.
The highly anticipated title game lived up to its expectations. The first half proved to be a mere stalemate between two defensively sound teams. The Terriers outshot the host team 8-3 in the opening 45 minutes, but PL Goalkeeper of the Year Jessica Ratner, piled up six first half saves to keep the match knotted at zero.
Bucknell wasted no time in the second half though, scoring the first goal of the contest in the 51st minute. Senior forward Alexis Gannon crossed the ball into the BU box, where junior Maddie Mulford collected it and blasted a shot past goalkeeper Bridget Conway. It was Mulford’s 10th goal of the season.
Just like their semifinal matchup against Navy, a game where the Terriers trailed by a goal with 10 minutes remaining and scored twice to win it, they battled back.
30 seconds after the Bucknell goal, freshman Ann Marie Jaworski made sure the lead didn’t last for long. After receiving a cross from McKenna Doyle, Jaworski slotted a shot past Ratner from the six-yard mark to tie the game at one. The goal marked Jaworski’s first of her collegiate career and sent the Terrier bench into jubilation.
Head Coach Nancy Feldman commented on her team’s resiliency to BU athletics.
“They rise to the occasion, they have a great persistence and fortitude… They get down and they get back up,” Feldman said.
This Terrier team faced perseverance all season long. After an 0-10 start to the year, BU rallied to win nine consecutive league matches and earn a share of the regular season title.
After the Jaworski goal, the Terriers believed they had one more resilient fight left in them.
“I thought we were going to win the match,” Feldman said.
BU had a golden opportunity to take the lead in the 77th minute. Freshman Shannon Keefe slipped through the Bison defense and found herself on a breakaway. With Ratner coming out of the net to cut down the angle, Keefe sailed a shot right over the crossbar, as the home crowd breathed a sigh of releif.
The Bison countered with a promising chance moments later. PL Offensive Player of the Year Kendall Ham split through the Terrier back line. She moved the ball to her stronger left foot and and sent a spiraling shot from just outside the box. The shot missed the top left corner by inches.
With neither team capitalizing, the match went into a golden goal overtime situation after 90 minutes of back and forth play.
Bucknell dominated the time of possession in the overtime period and finally came through just five minutes into the sudden death scenario.
Jackie Ham sent a cross from the left side of the field into the box. Senior Cora Climo won the ball and sent a shot inside the right post to give Bucknell the victory.
The Bison finished off a dominant season going 16-1-2 and capturing their first league title since 2005.
Meanwhile, the heartbreaking loss for the Terriers marks their first time not winning the league title since joining in 2013. It also will be just the third time since 2001 that the Terriers will not play in the NCAA Tournament.
Erica Kosienski, Julianna Chen, and Alivya Wimmer were named to the all-tournament team in the defeat.
Kosienski, as well as Conway, Rachel Blauner, and Ellen Starnes played their final game of their decorated careers in scarlet and white, falling a golden goal short of a four-peat.
“I’m always sad when it ends for them [seniors], Feldman said. “But the positivity was always there and we became a really good soccer team. We were cohesive on and off the field and I’m really proud of them.”
After the 0-10 start, the Terriers came within a golden goal of advancing to the NCAA Tournament.
“I thought we deserved to be here, it was an even game and either team could have won it,” Feldman said.
“I wish we could have won it, but hats off to Bucknell.”