By: Akshai Wadhwani
BOSTON, MA – A plethora of firsts boosted BU in their opening victory of the 2018 campaign on Sunday afternoon, as they coasted to a 3-0 shutout of UConn at Nickerson Field.
The Terriers first win of the season was aided by first career goals from Kelly Harris and Lauren Adelman, a first goal of the season by Chloee Sagmoe, and an excellent first half, giving BU the first clean sheet of the season.
A fourteen and a two may also have factored in—that is, the 14th annual Terrier Tailgate, which produced the second-largest turnout in BU women’s soccer history.
“I think having Terrier Tailgate today, and having 2,500 fans behind us, was certainly very inspirational to our kids,” head coach Nancy Feldman said. “We really appreciated the support today.”
After being heartbroken by a 3-2 overtime loss to Northeastern this past Thursday, the Terriers flew out the gate on Sunday with fire and fury. Harris struck with less than two minutes gone in the first half, tapping in a square pass from fellow senior McKenna Doyle after the latter slipped in behind the Husky defense on a through ball from Chelsea Churchill.
The Arizona native’s first collegiate goal came in what was only her fourth career start (last season, she made 20 appearances, but only one in the starting eleven).
“We’ve been waiting for this [early goals] to happen all season long, and I was lucky enough to get one within the first two minutes,” Harris said. “It was a beautiful ball in by McKenna, and I was lucky to be there.”
“On the first goal, it was a great buildup,” Feldman added. “Kelly was very, very poised with that finish…it was a professional finish.”
After their ideal start to the match, the Terriers maintained high pressure and continued to dominate ball possession and chance creation. Dorey Varley-Barrett had a half-volley fly over the crossbar in the 24th minute.
Later, in the 37th, Shannon Keefe found herself one-on-one with UConn goalkeeper Randi Palacios but put a powerful shot straight at her from close range.
Keefe’s missed opportunity proved inconsequential less than 30 seconds later, when junior Chloee Sagmoe received the ball in plenty of space on the right side of the box and fired a grounded shot across Palacios and into the bottom left corner.
Assisting was freshman Elle Conlin, making her collegiate debut in the Scarlet and White—yet another positive first on a perfect day for BU women’s soccer.
Events appeared to be going south at the beginning of the second frame, when Doyle fell to the turf clutching her face after a collision with a UConn defender. Fortunately, the senior forward eventually left the pitch of her own power—a sign the injury was none too serious.
Likewise, the Terriers did not break stride. After a quiet first half, Anna Heilferty exploded in the second forty-five with several bursts of individual skill; the sophomore saw one attempt barely miss the left-hand post in the 54th minute (after she dodged several challenges), then later launched a curling effort just over the bar after beating her defender with a beautiful stepover and cutting inside from the right wing.
Keefe also came close to scoring, looping a cross-turned-shot from the flanks that eventually missed the bar by inches.
In the end, it was Adelman who provided the insurance goal with just under twenty minutes remaining. After being played in behind by Heilferty, the freshman showed speed, composure, and creativity, dribbling her way around an outrushing Mollie Kerrigan (the Huskies’ second half keeper) before chipping the ball lightly into the net.
“What was really terrific about that goal was how she [Adelman] ran away from the kid [Kerrigan],” Feldman remarked. “It was nice to see her pull away, and show the poise as a first-year player…I think she’s a finisher, I really do.”
“I couldn’t believe it…when I scored and ran into the huddle, I was like, ‘I scored?!’ I didn’t even realize I scored,” Adelman joked. “It’s a really good feeling. Our team worked really hard today…which helped me bring the momentum and get that goal.”
Shot count finished at 16-11 in favor of the victorious Terriers, as did the shots on target count at 6-5. The BU defense contributed to the win by successfully pushing away five UConn corner kicks over the course of the match. Behind them, Morgan Messner made five saves to earn her first clean sheet of the season.
“I think it was important for her [Messner],” Feldman said of the shutout. “She’s been scored on a couple times…there’s a lot of people involved when goals are scored against us, but I’m sure, as the goalkeeper…she’s replaying those over and over. So, for her to make a few saves, control the game with her feet, distribute [the ball] like she did, it just builds her confidence. I think it’s really key.”
Thus, the Terriers have finally seen positive results yielded from a quick start off the mark and dominant offensive play—after being frustrated by the lack of said results in previous matches, even with the same level of play from start to finish. But Feldman believes that’s all part of the process.
“What comes first: Confidence or success?” she asked. “We’ve been coming out here and trying to play with confidence—even though we haven’t been getting the results—because we’re trusting the process, and we believe we are playing good soccer. While there’s things we need to address—and we address them and we fix them because we’re not perfect—we feel like we’re moving forward with our game, how we’re attacking and how we’re defending.
We play a tough schedule; we have to understand that we’re going to be up against equal—or not better—opposition, and that we’re going to have to play our best soccer at that moment in time to earn a result, and really be building the confidence that we can continue to get better…and be the best team we can be at the end.”
The passion and togetherness of the Terrier women went on full display at the final whistle, as players jumped up and down, rushed to hug each other, and chanted in celebration of the sweeping success.
“I was just so happy to see the kids so happy,” Feldman said. “They have stuck to it, and they have persisted, and been really positive and determined. It was nice to see them get a little reward today.”
Next Up: The Scarlet and White will deploy their forces at Nickerson Field again on Thursday, when Boston College arrives in town for the aptly named “Beat BC” match. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.