Saturday, 3:00 PM – Boston University vs Harvard
Seemingly joined at the hip in the first round of the NCAA Tournament thanks to geographic considerations, Boston University and Harvard will again look for a berth in the second round of the Big Dance. BU’s probably happy to be back in the NCAA Tournament after being banned from the America East Tournament last season as a result of their move to the Patriot League this year. BU showed a little of their potential early by drawing with South Carolina and running Boston College and Penn State close in non-conference play before Patriot League matches started. They’d lose to Navy for their only Patriot League blemish but got revenge in a 1-0 win against the Midshipmen in the Patriot League Tournament. A snarling defense conceded just once in league play and have conceded just seven overall. Buttressed by Patriot League Tournament MVP Andrea Green in goal, the Terriers also have the likes of Kai Miller, McKenzie Hollenbaugh, and Erin Mullen to throw at teams in defense, and it’s worked to great effect thus far, with the team having conceded multiple goals in just one match. The offense did manage to finish on top of the goals scored chart in the league, but they also did struggle a bit to score against the better clubs on their non-conference slate. Oddly enough, BU’s leading scorer, Erica Kosienski, the league’s Rookie of the Year, didn’t start a single game, taking up the role of super sub du jour and netting seven goals. Otherwise, the team’s biggest attacking threat is Madison Clemens, who scored six goals, including four in league play. After those two though, it’s a bit barren, with nobody else having more than three goals. Indeed, BU’s probably going to be in trouble if anyone dumps them into a big hole. Still, the defense has proven to be a very good unit throughout this year, and may be able to frustrate a Harvard side they drew with in the regular season. There’s just not enough star power or firepower here for an extended run in November though.
Harvard will fancy their chances though, having held Kosienski and Clemens to zero combined shots on goal and just four SOG combined in a 1-1 draw. Of course, Harvard themselves managed just two shots on goal, both coming from the feet of rookie sensation Margaret “Midge” Purce. The Ivy League’s Offensive Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year came into college with a ton of hype and hasn’t disappointed in a sterling freshman season. Purce had eleven goals in seventeen games and five in seven Ivy League games, also scoring the goal against BU earlier in the season. The only other player on the Crimson with more than four goals is senior Elizabeth Weisman, who came on late, netting four of her six tallies in the league. Harvard ran roughshod over the Ivy League with that offense, scoring more than three goals a game in the league. To put that into perspective, Harvard netted twenty-three in the league. The next highest scorers had twelve. One has to wonder how battle tested this Crimson side is though. The best sides they have played this year were Cal in the season opener and Saturday’s opponent at the beginning of October, with Harvard beating neither though keeping it close. Losses to the likes of San Francisco and New Hampshire earlier in the season either show how much this side has improved or a vulnerability. With the likes of Peyton Johnson and Erika Garcia in defense, Harvard’s been more than able to hold their own, conceding multiple goals in just three of seventeen games thus far, though they really haven’t faced any outstanding offenses. The goalkeeping situation also might cause some consternation, with the club using a whopping three keepers consistently, though junior Cheta Emba seems to be first choice these days. Harvard’s a young side with just two senior starters who likely have much better days ahead. We’re going to find out how much they’ve learned from their first meeting with BU a month ago, but I suspect the Terriers may still be a touch too much for the Crimson on Saturday.
Prediction – Boston University 1 – 0 Harvard
Harvard Tournament Prediction – First Round
Boston University Tournament Prediction – Second Round