By: Marisa Ingemi
One would be hard pressed to find a more difficult schedule in the country than Boston University faced this season.
With the likes of Boston College, Duke, Syracuse, UConn, and Northwestern on its slate, the fourteenth ranked Terriers still came out as the regular season Patriot League champions to host the conference tournament on home turf at New Balance Field.
Of those opponents, the only victories were over Northwestern and BC. The Northwestern win came early in the year, and the win over the Eagles on the road, an overtime victory, served as a taste of what the Terriers can do to good teams.
The Syracuse and UConn losses, both on home turf, involved the top five teams playing better than BU. However the loss to Duke was the real heartbreaker, coming with just eight seconds left in regulation.
Now the Terriers start out with Bucknell in post season play.
“I anticipate two really outstanding games, it took American overtime to beat Bucknell away, and Bucknell is playing really well right now,” said head coach Sally Starr. “They pounced on Lafayette in a must win, so we’ve got four teams playing their best hockey right now and anything can happen. Sometimes you need to get lucky,”
Bucknell might not be the powerhouse that UConn or Syracuse were, but playoffs are a different animal, and the tough competition prepared the Terriers for this moment.
“To go out to American, knowing that we needed to win to be able to host, we just battled,” Starr said. “We stayed in the game, and it was a grinder and a tough game. Fast paced, hard fought, mentally challenging, I was proud of the way we persisted.”
The importance of the tournament isn’t just being the PL champion, but winning could also increase the seeding in the national tournament, something that is on the mind of Starr and her team.
“I see us anywhere in that four to twelve spot,” Starr said. “We could land anywhere in there. I’d like the opportunity to play one of those top teams again.
“I think with our RPI being high, and if we can get the championship Sunday, I think we’ll avoid a play in game and avoid a top seed. Those are two things we want.”
While the tough competition the Terriers have faced this season certainly prepares them for the moment, Bucknell is not being overlooked, and the challenges of playing a conference team in its own right remains the biggest concern.
“All previous games get thrown out when you start the conference tournament,” Starr said. “I anticipate two really outstanding games.”
The Bison will be a test for the Terriers, and while they may not be ranked as high as the likes of UConn or Duke, BU is prepared for a battle against Bucknell on Friday at New Balance Field.
“Bucknell’s pounced on Lafayette in a must win. I think we have four teams playing their best hockey right now. Anything can happen.”