By Akshai Wadhwani October 18, 2017
The Boston University women’s soccer team took an important step towards maintaining its high seeding going into the Patriot League playoffs, as an early first half goal from Christina Wakefield proved enough to edge them past Army West Point, 1-0, and clinch a spot in the league tournament.
BU’s decisive strike came in the 15th minute, and was started by center back McKenna Kennedy. The freshman made her way well into the Black Knights’ half before sending a quick ball to Jesse Shreck. The Terrier midfielder turned to face goal, then threaded a pass between two Army defenders and into the path of Christina Wakefield. In behind, Wakefield went one-on-one with Black Knight keeper Sydney Cassalia; the latter got a hand to her right-footed shot but failed to redirect it, and the ball nestled in the bottom left corner. The goal marked a milestone as the senior forward’s tenth career goal as a Terrier, as well as her fifth this season.
BU stayed dominant throughout the first half, garnering 12 shots. They would have doubled their lead in the 32nd minute were it not for Cassalia, who made a brilliant save at full stretch to keep a bent effort from the Terriers’ McKenna Doyle out of the net. The Black Knight keeper made five saves total in the first forty-five to keep BU at bay.
Army bounded back after the break, forcing a more even shot count of 7-6 in favor of the Terriers, but failed to find an equalizer. At match’s end, BU had 19 shots on the board with 10 on target; the Black Knights managed eight with five. The Terriers’ Amanda Fay finished with five saves, while her counterpart Cassalia notched four more in the second half for nine total.
At this point, the BU defense has well and truly proved its versatility—and, in light of recent events, its incredible adaptability. The Terrier back line has not missed a beat, despite losing two veteran starters in center back Alivya Wimmer and goalkeeper Hannah Ciolek. Kennedy and Fay, as freshmen, have emphatically taken up their predecessor’s mantles and proven themselves to be players of outstanding quality.
The 1-0 result all but guarantees that BU (8-6-3, 5-1-1 PL) will have at least a No. 4 seeding in the Patriot League playoffs.
The Terriers do have a pair of massive fixtures awaiting them to close out their regular season; third place Bucknell is coming up this Saturday, while second place Colgate will arrive at Nickerson Field on the 28th.
However, for BU to drop to the fifth seed, two scenarios would need to occur. First: The current fifth seed, Lehigh, would have to win both of its remaining matches (very possible, since the Mountain Hawks will face underperforming Holy Cross and bottom-of-the-league Loyola Maryland), finishing with a conference record of 5-2-2. Second: The Terriers would have to lose both of their remaining matches, thus finishing with a conference record of 5-3-1.
The conclusion: All BU needs to retain a fourth place conference finish is a draw from either of their last two fixtures. In their current form—a three-match win streak consisting of five goals scored and none conceded—the Terriers look likely to do that and more.
The Terriers are headed for Lewisburg, PA to face Bucknell on Saturday afternoon. Kickoff is set for 2 P.M.