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Women’s Soccer Takes on Marquette Tonight

Terriers out to regain “attitude and swagger”

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This year’s BU women’s soccer team is determined to recapture dominance in the Patriot League after a one-goal overtime loss to Bucknell in the 2016 championship game ended a three-year winning streak. Looking back on last year, head coach Nancy Feldman says the team struggled to recover from a sluggish start.

Now, just a week away from beginning Patriot League play, Feldman has charged her current squad with regaining its identity.

“This year is a year that I’d like to see us get back to being the team that isn’t having to come from behind,” she says. “That’s an important foundation, that attitude and swagger, to get back this year, and this is the team to do it. They all want it, they all are capable of it, and it’s a legacy that they feel is very important.”

So far, the results haven’t shown on the score sheet. Headed into tonight’s home game with Marquette, the Terriers have come out on top just once on their way to a 1-3-2 record. But Feldman says she can see the kind of team she’s after bubbling just below the surface.

“We’ve fallen a little bit short so far. We’ve seen it in many moments, but we haven’t seen it in a complete 90-minute performance,” she says. “The good news is it’s in us, because we’ve seen it show up in each of the games in a very strong way, and it’s effective for dominating or having momentum. That’s what I expect for 90 minutes, and that’s a reputation we want to have and we’ve had in the past.”

BU Terriers women's soccer player Rachel Bloznalis kicks the ball durring a game

Fifth-year player Rachel Bloznalis (SAR’17, SPH’19), one of this season’s three BU captains, is credited with being a driving force behind a team leaning on grit, hard work, and a one-day-at-a-time mentality.

Tri-captain Rachel Bloznalis (SAR’17, SPH’19), a fifth-year player and the unquestioned leader of a team with a balance of youth and experience, knows exactly what it will take to get there.

“I know what my end goals are,” Bloznalis says. “I definitely have it in the back of my mind, but what I’m thinking about day in and day out is practice that day and the next game coming up, because that’s the only way we’ll ever get there. Having four seasons of experience, I understand even more how important it really is to take it one game at a time. That’s all you can control.”

Fellow captains Jacki Carty (CGS’16, SAR’18) and Alivya Wimmer (CGS’16, CAS’18) are two members of a seven-player senior class that certainly knows its way around Nickerson Field. While the trio may be listed as captains on paper, Wimmer credits all the seniors with taking up the mantle this season.

“Our senior class in general is very experienced and mature,” she says. “Our leadership style is to hold people accountable and demand a high standard, because in doing that in practice and in the weight room, it translates really well to games.”

On the other end of the spectrum, a freshman foursome has already proven that they’re primed to contribute.

“The team is very inviting, and it was easy to come in, but it was even easier because all four of the freshmen came in prepared,” Anna Heilferty (CAS’21) says. “We passed our fitness test, and we’re ready to play. We’re ready to add to the team and get off on a good foot.”

That confidence hasn’t gone unnoticed by Feldman, who describes Heilferty as a firecracker. “She can play in the back, and she can play up top. She scored a goal against Hofstra that should have been the winning goal,” she says. “She’s talented. She’s got strength, she’s got skill, she’s got confidence, and her learning curve has been good.”

BU Terriers women's soccer coach Nancy Feldman

Nancy Feldman (center), now in her 23rd year as head coach, says she wants her players to regain their reputation for being a tough, physical, 90-minute team.

While the coach regards Bloznalis as a critical and calming presence on the back end, she says Christina Wakefield (CGS’16, CAS’18) brings a different edge on the attack.

“Tina Wakefield got back within nine months after having an ACL injury last fall. She’s a force for us, and we missed her last year at the end of the season. She’s an emotional, passionate player and a leader by example for our forwards. She has a lot of goals in her before she’s done here,” Feldman says. “As much as we’ll need her goals and assists, we’ll need her influence on the other attacking players.”

Heilferty says the Terriers’ mantra for the season—We Decide—plays well into their goal of recapturing the Patriot League crown. “We decide how prepared we come into the game and how much grit and effort we bring,” she says. “We decide these things, and we go out and give 100 percent so we don’t have any regrets.”

Tonight’s game against Marquette, which blasted BU 3-0 when they last played two seasons ago, is seen by players as an important step in regaining their reputation as a program steeped in success.

“We need to address every game as if the other team should be afraid to play us, as Boston University. We should be confident in our name and our program, because we do have a history of success, but we also have to work for it,” Wimmer says. “Our identity going into it is that we work hard, but we’re here to perform.”

The BU women’s soccer team takes on Marquette tonight, Friday, September 8, at 7 p.m., 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 Terriers begin conference play on Saturday, September 16, when they host American University at 1 p.m.

Taylor Raglin can be reached at traglin@bu.edu.

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