By: Matthew Doherty
BOSTON — For the first time as a member of the Patriot League, the Boston University women’s soccer team played in a quarterfinal tournament game.
In the four years prior, the Terriers had either won the regular season title or finished as the runner-up, which meant they received an automatic bye to the semifinals. But, with plenty of strong teams in the league this fall, the Terriers finished third, despite going 6-2-1 in Patriot League play.
Their third place finish meant a semifinal play-in game Tuesday night at Nickerson Field against sixth-seeded Lafayette College. And although the quarterfinal match was unfamiliar territory for the Terriers, the result was not.
BU outshot Lafayette 21-6 en route to a 1-0 victory to extend their Nickerson Field unbeaten streak to 47 games.
“This year’s team has its own way of getting to the title,” Head Coach Nancy Feldman said. “It just so happens we have to play one extra. I think this team has shown a boat load of perseverance and grit.”
Senior captain Jacki Carty scored the game-winning goal in the second half while the Terrier defense recorded their seventh shutout of the Patriot League season.
BU will now play second-seeded Bucknell in the semifinals Friday at the United States Naval Academy, with a trip to their fifth straight league title game on the line.
Feldman said her team rode their same formula as they did all season; strong defense and timely scoring.
“All you need is one more than the other team,” Feldman. “So if we defend like hell and continue to be gritty and persistent, be aggressive finding opportunities, we’re going to breakthrough. We trust our defending. We have to.”
The Terriers suffered a major blow not even ten minutes into the match when senior first-team All-Patriot League member Christina Wakefield left the game with an injury and did not return. Feldman said Wakefield’s status for this weekend “does not look positive”.
Lafayette had their best scoring opportunity with three seconds left in the first half when they were rewarded a free-kick just outside the box. However, Gabrielle Martone’s shot at the halftime buzzer nailed the crossbar.
BU outshot Lafayette 13-3 in the first half but Leopard freshman goalkeeper Maggie Pohl made numerous saves to keep the match knotted at zero.
The Leopards nearly took the lead halfway through the second when Alex Stanford received a cross on a breakaway, and ripped a shot from inside the box. Fortunately for BU, the Stanford chance sailed right into the chest of goalkeeper Amanda Fay.
Despite those two chances from Lafayette, BU controlled the game from the opening kickoff. They constantly attacked on the offensive end while maintaining possession for the majority of the match. And, in the 74th minute, the Terriers finally broke through when Carty headed Anna Heilferty’s corner-kick into the back of the net.
Heilferty checked back into the game before the play and sent a spiraling corner into the box, where Carty jumped to the ball around three defenders before delivering the clincher. She was mobbed by her teammates including Fay who ran from the other goal to join the celebration.
The freshman goalkeeper continued her astounding campaign with yet another clean sheet.
“She doesn’t look like a freshman,” Feldman said of Fay. “She’s very, very solid. She’s big in goal. She has been a very pleasant addition and surprise. With the injury to Hannah Coilek, she’s stepped and has been everything we hoped. I believe she should have been an All-Conference goalkeeper. But she’ll get to show that this weekend.”
BU will play Bucknell at 8 p.m. on Friday. Top-seeded Navy will face Colgate in the other semifinal matchup at 5 p.m.