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Women’s Soccer Takes on Comm Ave Rival at Home Tonight

Terriers hope for momentum after beating UConn for first season win

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When three different players stepped up to lead the BU women’s soccer team to a 3-0 win over UConn in front of 2,500 fans at Nickerson Field on Sunday, the Terriers were hoping it marked a turnaround for the team. The preseason launched with a promising second-place vote in the polls, but they’ve faced some difficult challenges since, with a tough nonconference schedule that saw them defeated by number-14 Princeton and two Big-10 opponents.

The Terriers (1-5) are aiming to capitalize on the momentum of Sunday’s victory when they host their Green Line rival Boston College tonight at 7 pm at Nickerson Field.

“We’ve competed hard against some really hard competition, and we’re disappointed we’re not getting results,” says head coach Nancy Feldman. “But we’re trusting the process, and we’re going to keep trying to identify the areas we need to get better.”

For the Terriers, starting the season pegged number two is new: the team has been ranked first in the preseason poll for the past five consecutive seasons. The dip was largely because of the graduation of elite players like Rachel Bloznalis (Sargent’17, SPH’19), who is now competing for the Swedish club Umeå IK, and Christina Wakefield (CGS’16, CAS’18).

In a show of determination, the players have adopted the mantra “We Will” this season. “We have the will to come up big in little moments at the end of hard games,” says McKenna Doyle (Questrom’19). “Looking long-term, it’s seeing how—even though we’re not getting the results we want now—if we keep working hard, the wins will come later in the season.”

The team’s best offensive weapon may be Anna Heilferty (CAS’21), who competed with the US U-18 National Team earlier this year and is the first sophomore named Patriot League Preseason Offensive Player of the Year since Army’s Kim An in 2011. Doyle, Dorrie Varley-Barrett (CGS’17, Sargent’19), and Julianna Chen (CAS’19) join Heilferty on the preseason All-Conference Team.

Anna Heilferty (CAS’21) is the first sophomore to snag the Patriot League Preseason Offensive Player of the Year since Army’s Kim An in 2011. Photo by Tim Carey

Anna Heilferty (CAS’21) is the first sophomore to snag Patriot League Preseason Offensive Player of the Year since Army’s Kim An in 2011. Photo by Tim Carey

During Sunday’s UConn game, BU pulled two of the three goals from the bench, a bench that’s much deeper than last season’s. Much of the credit for that belongs to the 10-woman freshman class, the largest since 2006. That class went on to play in four consecutive NCAA Tournaments. Feldman says she’s been impressed with what she’s seen so far among this year’s freshmen.

“They’re the right kids,” she says. “We worked really hard in the recruiting process to make sure that they’re the kind of people, they’re the kind of students, have the kind of spirit that buys into the culture, so we’ve hit the mark with regard to that.”

The 10 freshmen are balanced by 10 seniors, and those seniors have not only led by example, the coach says, but have created a comfortable environment for the new members to thrive in. “They’re a great example to follow,” Heilferty says. “I think they all have special qualities and definitely are leading our team this year.”

Head coach Nancy Feldman is just two wins away from her 300th BU career victory. Photo by Daryl Marshke

Head coach Nancy Feldman is just 2 wins away from her 300th BU career victory. Photo by Daryl Marshke

Heading into tonight’s game, the Terriers know they face a challenging opponent. Recent history favors BC, who has beaten the home team, 3-0, in their last two meetings. The most recent BU win against the Eagles, a 2-1 home game, came in 2014.

“We always take it one game at a time,” Chen says. “But whenever we play the Boston teams we play every year, it adds a little bit, it kicks it up a notch.”

In addition to reclaiming bragging rights over BC, there’s another reason the Terriers are driven to win tonight: Feldman, now in her 24th season as head coach, is just 2 games away from her 300th BU career win. A victory tonight would be one step closer to that formidable achievement. But that’s the least of Feldman’s focus tonight.

“It means nothing, because right now I’m only in the moment of this season,” she says. “You’re only as good as your last game.”

The BU players are following her lead. Their end goal is obvious: to first win the Patriot League, then get to the NCAA Tournament and advance as far as possible, and their coach is determined to keep them focused on the day-to-day success to get them there.

“While we have goals for the season in challenging for the Patriot League tournament and all that, right now it’s about one game at a time,” Feldman says. “That sounds cliché, but that’s really where we should be at, and where we are at.”

The BU women’s soccer team takes on Boston College tonight, Thursday, September 6, at 7 pm, at Nickerson Field, 285 Babcock St. Tickets are free for students with a sports pass, $3 for faculty, staff, and students without a sports pass, and $5 for the general public. The Patriot League Network will broadcast the game live.

Jonathan Chang can be reached at jchang19@bu.edu; follow him on Twitter at @jonathanychang.

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