By Akshai Wadhwani October 21, 2017
With a 2-1 defeat at Bucknell on Saturday afternoon, the Boston University women’s soccer team’s coveted No. 4 seeding in the Patriot League tournament is now in jeopardy.
Superstar forward Kendall Ham’s two goals in the first half proved just enough to lift the Bison past a resilient Terrier squad, who were unable to do anything more than halve the deficit despite garnering 18 shots with five on target.
The home team took just under eight minutes to break through a normally iron-solid BU defense. A free kick into the penalty area by Bucknell’s Maddie Dano was hacked at by several players before falling to Ham on the left side. With her back to goal, the Bison senior quickly swiveled and simultaneously launched a left-footed effort which looked to be an unintentional chip shot as it sailed over the head of Terrier goalkeeper Amanda Fay and into the net.
Bucknell’s Maddie Mulford nearly doubled the lead three minutes later when her shot hit the right-hand post. As the ball rebounded into play, Fay made an excellent save to deny Alexandra Catanzarite a poacher’s goal. The Bison were not to be kept at bay, however, and in the 32nd minute doubled their lead on another delivery into the box from Dano, this time off a corner kick, which was met by Ham once again. The latter put a header in at the near post to complete her brace and give Bucknell a 2-0 advantage.
The Terriers also ended up scoring off a corner kick just before half time. Erin Neville’s kick reached Dorie Varley-Barrett at the far post, and the Terrier midfielder put a header of her own past Bison keeper Dani Kaufman to cut the hosts’ lead in half.
Unfortunately, BU was unable to break through again in the second half, with shot attempts by Terriers Christina Wakefield, Jesse Shreck, and Anna Heilferty all being saved by Kaufman. BU’s Fay made two more saves to keep the scoreline grounded.
The 2-1 result marked the first time in more than six weeks that the Terriers have conceded multiple goals. BU is now 8-7-3 overall, but more importantly, 5-2-1 in the Patriot League. With Lehigh (4-2-2 PL) recently defeating Loyola Maryland, that means that if the Terriers lose to Colgate in their regular season finale next weekend, and Lehigh wins again, then BU will drop into fifth place and the Mountain Hawks will rob them of the fourth seed.
Bucknell, meanwhile, has clinched a spot in the top two seeds with their win over BU. Facing current league leaders Navy next week, the Bison could snatch the first seed from them with a win.
The Terriers will have to buckle down and prepare to defend like dogs when next Saturday’s matchup with the Raiders rolls around. Since BU needs but a draw to clinch the fourth seed, fans may have to lower their expectations for an entertaining match at Nickerson Field; the Terriers could very well end up in park-the-bus mode, keeping everybody back to prevent the opposition scoring rather than committing players to offense and risking conceding on the counterattack. Only time will tell how Nancy Feldman’s squad will perform in next weekend’s conclusion to the regular season.
Next Up: The Terriers return to Nickerson Field for a high stakes clash with Colgate in their last fixture before the Patriot League playoffs begin. Kickoff will be Saturday, October 28th, at 1 P.M.