By: Akshai Wadhwani
BOSTON – Bison may have the edge over Terrier in recent playoff meetings, but in Saturday afternoon’s regular season clash, the latter reigned supreme.
BU (8-7-3 overall) marked its 2018 Senior Day and last home match of the regular season with a 2-0 decision over Bucknell (7-9-1 overall, 5-3-0 PL) at Nickerson Field. The weekend win boosted the Terriers to 6-0-2 in the Patriot League, nestling them firmly into second place with just two points separating themselves and league leaders Colgate—whom they will challenge in New York in a week’s time.
Junior midfielder Chloee Sagmoe capped the end of an all-BU first half with her go-ahead goal in the 41st minute; Shannon Keefe gathered an overshot cross from Anna Heilferty, before sending the ball back across the box for Sagmoe’s tap-in finish. The upperclassman’s second goal of the season, and third all-time for BU, proved the eighth and final contribution to an 8-0 shot advantage for the hosts heading into halftime.
The Bison still had not registered their first attempt at the Terriers’ goalframe when senior Royce Light struck in the 55th minute to double the scoreline. The center back’s fellow senior, Pietra Sweeney, delivered an inch-perfect, grounded free kick through the middle of the penalty area and into her feet; her first go deflected off Bucknell keeper Theresa Adu-Attobrah, but she made no mistake on the rebound.
The entire sequence of the set piece looked to have been taken directly out of a rehearsed training ground move, but Light humorously refuted that notion.
“I would love to say that it was planned!” the senior said. “But, no, [it wasn’t]. I guess we [Sweeney and she] just communicated nonverbally that that was what was going to happen, and I saw it and she saw it.
“Bucknell has always been our rival, so getting a goal [today] and having our whole team being excited for Senior [Day], it means the world to absolutely everyone so it’s exciting to capitalize on those chances.”
The visitors from Pennsylvania did eventually find their shooting boots, as senior Maddie Dano launched a free kick comfortably over the bar less than a minute after Light’s tally. The counteroffensive continued later in the second half, as the Bison launched back-to-back attempts in the 65th (from Dano again) and 66th (from senior Riley Coopersmith) minutes of play.
However, freshman Morgan Messner—more a sunbather than a goalkeeper in the first half—proved equal to the task when finally called upon, tipping both efforts over the crossbar as they looped toward her goal from long range. The saves, two of just three required on the afternoon, awarded Messner her fifth shutout of the season and maintained her perfect record of zero goals conceded in Patriot League competition.
Though the Bison edged them out in shots in the second forty-five at 5-4, the Terriers still dominated the final shot count at 12-5; as well as the two goals, that total also included a Taylor Kofton header in the 48th minute denied only via a clearance off the line by Bison defender Ali Russo. BU also ruled possession throughout the match and allowed little in the way of genuine scoring opportunities (both aforementioned saves by Messner came off shots from well outside the box).
Head coach Nancy Feldman applauded the dominant effort against a team that has been a painful thorn in the side of her squad often in the past few years.
“They’re a very good team and they’ve had good success this year,” Feldman said of Bucknell. “We [just tried] to keep the pressure on with our attack. I’ve said it before; it’s the best defense. If we can play in their half, and keep the possession, and be aggressive going forward, and get them on their heels, you limit how much they’re attacking and touching the ball in your half of the field…That’s what we want to do in every game.”
Feldman also offered up plenty of praise for the veteran players being celebrated in Saturday’s Senior Day event—players who will be part of the 24th class to graduate under her tenure.
“I hoped for them [the seniors] that it would be…a memorable day that was positive. A lot of them play a significant role, and have done all season. We knew…that they’ll take the lead, and we’re all going to just follow their lead,” Feldman said. “We knew how important this game was just getting the points, and positioning [ourselves] for trying to keep ourselves alive for the number one seed—and also the significance of it being their [the seniors’] last regular season game on Nickerson Field. They led the way…That’s what you want. You want your elders, your leaders, to model how to do it.”
Next Up: The second-place Terriers and first-place Raiders will clash in Hamilton next Saturday, in a matchup which will decide the Patriot League regular season champion of 2018. Kickoff in the pivotal fixture is scheduled for twelve o’clock noon.