BROOKLINE — When sophomore superstar Vivian Akyirem scored Northeastern’s first goal in the 60th minute and fell to the pitch in jubilation, it felt like an absolute certainty that the Huskies would ride that wave of emotion to victory.
Instead, the season-high crowd of 382 fans at Parsons Field were left in stunned silence as BU’s Erin Sullenberger notched the equalizer nine minutes later, and the Terriers held on to force a 1-1 draw.
The Huskies opted to switch their starting lineup before the match, benching usual full-timers Akyirem, Eleanor Fisher, and Sofie Fox for Ava Nace, Megan Putvinski and Lauren DuPont. Coming into the matchup, six of the seven goals BU had given up were in the second half, so Northeastern’s strategy looked to be keeping some of their top players fresh for when the Terriers began to tire.
In the first half, Northeastern dominated both time of possession and high-quality scoring chances but were denied at every turn by BU junior keeper Celia Braun. The Huskies did a stellar job of putting their players in the right spots to score with speed in transition and quick passes, they just couldn’t execute a finishing blow. Braun tipped a rocket from Jessie Hunt out of play in the 28th minute, then followed that up by controlling the post on a Katherine Marchessault header.
The key play of the first came in the 38th minute, when defender Faith Rosenblatt pulled off a goal-line stand after a BU corner kick where Northeastern keeper Holland Stam was out of position. It was one of many instances where the Huskies’ defense was able to weather the storm on Terrier corners.
In the second half, Akyirem put the Huskies on top with a missile from the right side of the penalty area after a perfect pass from Jessie Hunt. It was Akyirem’s first goal of the season and Hunt has now assisted on eight of her 14 career goals. Akyirem regaining her scoring touch after going the first four games without a goal would be massive for a Huskies team that has struggled to score against higher quality opponents so far this year.
Sullenberger would respond with her first career goal after a deflection from a Guiliana Gianino pass around the left corner of the goal. It was a right-place right-time score for the Terriers, who had been knocking on the door throughout the entire second half.
The game ended with no significant scoring chances after the goals. It was just the second draw in the history of this rivalry, with Northeastern still losing the all-time series 8-14-2. Overall, this match highlighted the kinks that the Huskies are still working through. They had trouble finishing on their chances in this one and were unable to get out of their defensive end for long stretches of play in the second half.
Northeastern finished out their 2023 non-conference slate with a 2-2-1 record with their wins coming against Holy Cross and Eastern Michigan, and losses against Xavier and San Jose State. Thankfully, they open CAA play with a date against UNCW, who is 1-4 to start the season, and has been outscored 10-3 overall.
Northeastern will play host to the UNCW Seahawks in their first taste of CAA play on Thursday, Sept. 7. Khalin Kapoor and Peyton Doyle will have the call live at 6 p.m. on WRBB Sports+.