Clare Pleuler charged towards the Colgate goal as a teammate fired a cross into the area during Sunday's Patriot League championship game against Colgate. The junior midfielder and Gloucester native redirected teammate Jenna Fisher's past to the right of the Colgate goal and put it into the net far post to give her Terriers a 2-0 lead.
When the final whistle sounded Pleuler's goal ended up being the game winner as Boston University won the Patriot League title 2-1 over its biggest rival.
Pleuler and the Terriers (14-4-3) are now moving on to the NCAA Tournament, where they will host fellow Boston school Northeastern in a first round tilt Saturday at Boston University's Nickerson Field (2 p.m.).
"It was great to see the team step up and win when it mattered," the Gloucester native said. "We have a pretty healthy rival with Colgate and the game was a real grind. It was basically win or go home for both of us."
Sunday's game winning goal was Pleuler's second game winner in the Patriot League tournament. In Friday's Patriot League semifinal against Navy Pleuler scored the first goal of the contest in impressive fashion firing a shot into the top left corner of the goal to give the Terriers a 1-0 lead, they would go on to win the contest 2-0.
Two days later she was clutch again in Boston University's win over Colgate, a win that was extra special because it was over the team's bitter rival.
Colgate earned the No. 1 seed in the Patriot League with the Terriers right behind. Although BU bested Colgate in a regular season matchup, Colgate was able to host the Patriot League tournament thanks to a few set backs from the Terriers including disappointing losses to Army and Loyola. But the Terriers came to play on Sunday, Pleuler's goal in the 65' was the difference and the team was able to thwart a furious Colgate rush to the finish after the home team converted a penalty kick with 10 minutes on the clock.
"We were hoping to host the Patriot League tournament but a few uncharacteristic set-backs gave Colgate the top seed," Pleuler said. "We were expecting a battle (on Sunday) and it was. The final ten minutes were so intense. It got a little chippy but that was expected but Colgate was playing for its life. We were able to hold on and it was such a great feeling to win the league again. A regular season title is great but the conference tournament is the big prize."
For her efforts Pleuler was named to the Patriot League's All Tournament Team as she doubled her season's goal total in just two games in leading Boston University to a second straight Patriot League title and NCAA Tournament berth.
The current focus for Pleuler and the No. 23 ranked Terriers is Northeastern, a familiar opponent from the same city. Both schools play a similar, possession based style and appear to be evenly matched with each team sporting a 14-4-3 record.
The Huskies bumped off Boston University 1-0 in a September 14 meeting but both teams have grown since the early season meeting.
"We're pretty similar in our styles," Pleuler said. "We both like to play a possession based game but (Northeastern) does most of its scoring on set pieces where we score most of our goals in the field of play. The first meeting was really back and forth and they were able to score the only goal but we've come so far since then. We have experience playing in these types of games where you have to win to keep the season alive so we will be focused. It should be a great game."
The winner of Friday's game will move on to the round of 32 to square off against the winner of No. 4 Florida St. and South Alabama.
The 2014 season got off to a bit of a rocky start for Pleuler, who helped lead the Gloucester girls soccer team to its most successful season ever back in 2011. The junior midfielder sprained her mcl in practice and was forced to miss five games. The road back was a difficult one as she had to build herself back up to game speed after returning from the injury.
"The toughest part was adjusting to the speed on the field," she said. "But we have a great training staff that helped me rehab and get back up to speed."
As the season wore on, Pleuler got stronger, and her minutes increased.
The junior midfielder is one of the first players to come off of the bench for the Terriers and her energy frequently gives the team a boost. Currently Pleuler has four goals in 16 games played this fall.
Fortunately for Boston University, Pleuler is playing her best soccer when the stakes are at their highest.
"I have built up more momentum as the season progressed," Pleuler said. "I try to be an offensive spark coming off the bench and I've played a bit of a bigger role recently. It was hard but I'm not feeling the affects of the injury anymore."