Women’s Soccer: BU scores four, rolls past American to clinch Patriot League tournament berth

By Sam Robb O’Hagan

Sophomore forward Natalie Godoy scored twice as Boston University women’s soccer (7-5-5, 4-2-2 PL) clinched a spot in the Patriot League tournament for the fourth-straight season, routing American (3-8-4, 3-4-1 PL) 4-0 at Nickerson Field on Saturday.

BU took 24 shots and put 14 of them on goal, both their highest marks of the season, to score four goals for the second time in Patriot League play. The Terriers have now scored 18 goals in conference, their most since 2017, with one game still left to play.

“Credit to our whole team, and our attack,” BU Head Coach Casey Brown said. “It shows the levels of versatility we have [up front]. On any given day we feel really confident that anyone can contribute.”

Godoy, who’s started all but one game this season — mostly positioned in the center of the Terriers’ front three — has now scored six goals on the year. The first brace of her collegiate career was a culmination of a productive, but, at times, frustrating sophomore season.

Before Saturday, she’d taken 24 shots, second most on the team, but had scored on just a sixth of them.

“I’m happy for her,” Brown said. “For [Godoy] to put in two really good moments, two class finishes, it’s huge for confidence and momentum for her, and for the team.”

Her first of the day was the profit of a relentless pursuit—a statement goal from one of BU’s most physical players.

A long ball from senior defender Kayla Ross was overhit, but Godoy wrestled through an American defender before quickly sliding the ball around goalkeeper Julia Kato to create a tap-in on an empty goal.

It was ruthless center forward play, putting BU ahead less than ten minutes in.

Minutes later, another through-ball, this time from senior midfielder Lily Matthews and this time perfectly placed, found sophomore midfielder Giulianna Gianino in the box, who used her first touch to once again round Kato for a tap-in.

“We were aggressive in-behind today,” Brown said. “Our team rose to it, we competed, we tried to put the ball on the floor and play our game, and the girls did a great job doing just that.”

Gianino has now scored six times this season, tied for the team lead alongside Godoy.

American put three shots on goal in the second half as they trailed by two goals, but all three were saved by junior goalkeeper Celia Braun. The last, a full-stretch dive to keep out a dangerous free kick with less than ten minutes left, secured a clean sheet for a defense that hadn’t shut out an opponent in over a month.

“We were really tidy in individual defensive moments,” Brown said. “In 50/50s, in slick conditions, in reorganization moments off set pieces, those are areas we wanted to really clean up and improve.”

Despite scoring 18 goals in the Patriot League, BU has conceded 12. In half of their eight conference games so far, BU has allowed at least two goals.

“I think we took a step today in that department,” Brown said. “Credit this team, they’re so committed to getting better every day and every game.”

Braun’s last save cleared the way for the attack in front of her, as dangerous as ever, to shut the door.

Junior midfielder Hugrún Helgadóttir played senior forward Abigail McNulty down the wide channel, whose perfect cross took an American defender out of the play and left Godoy through on goal.

Godoy’s finish easily beat Kato to find the bottom corner and put the game away with seven minutes left.

McNulty found the scoresheet herself, calmly slotting an awkward deflection into the opposite corner with a minute and a half to go. In the final season of a 51-game career, McNulty scored her fourth goal of the season in just her eighth game.

“I thought she was excellent,” Brown said. “To get her going and to find the back of the net like that was awesome.”

All four of McNulty’s goals have come in Patriot League play after she returned from an injury against Navy on October 1.

For BU, a fourth-straight conference tournament appearance is only another step in a still-unfolding season.

The next step—a critical matchup away at first-place Army on Wednesday at 6 p.m. on the final day of the regular season—will decide BU’s tournament seeding.

Within a crowded top half of the standings, BU improves to 14 points. For now, that’s good enough for fourth place, but the Terriers are just two points behind the league leaders. Five teams are within three points of each other at the top of the conference.

Depending on Wednesday’s results, BU could finish the season as high as first or as low as fifth.

The bottom line for BU, though, is that a win on Wednesday will bring them to 17 points, which will be good enough to clinch a top-three finish and will mean they play at least their first tournament game at home.

“We gotta keep things rolling,” Brown said.