By: Marisa Ingemi
For the first time in 2017, the Boston University Terriers took the field on Saturday for their first preseason action. BU faced Merrimack and Quinnipiac in what was the first glance at the squad before the regular season play begins next month.
So far, they like what they see.
“In both scrimmages, we got contributions from everyone,” said fourth year head coach Ryan Polley. “We were really balanced offensively. Our clearing was much better, we didn’t turn the ball over. Just having ball possession and being consistent with it allowed us to score 21 against Merrimack, 17 against Quinnipiac. Having the ball and not turning it over, getting shot opportunities. I was pleased in those aspects.”
In their third year as a program, the Terriers still struggled with things that would be expected for a young team; clears and turnovers. That being resolved, along with having a healthy group, means BU has an equal chance to compete.
“We’re healthy,” Polley said. “We’re in a good spot right now. Some guys had some off season surgeries. Everyone is back, just some nicks and bruises, but everyone is playing that first game. We’re very encouraged by that.”
Along with a senior class that includes 17 returners, there is also a freshman group that is going to be involved.
“John MacLean is going to run top six for sure, on the first line,” said Polley. “Chase Levesque is a huge surprise. We knew he was a nice player out of high school but he’s pushing. Conor Muldoon is right at the top right now, he’s not locked in as a guy who’s going to see time but he’s right on the cusp.”
“The freshman classes’ stick work is already better than where it was when I was a freshman,” said senior midfielder Cal Dearth. “That’s going to help. Cutting down turnovers, having the experience will help. We’re more patient and relaxed with the full.”
MacLean, who won a high school championship with Medfield on Nickerson Field this past June, is one of BU’s highest profile recruits. The other is goalie Joe McSorely.
“We’re happy with Joe McSorely, but Christian Carson-Bannister is our starter unless something happens,” Polley said. “Joe has really impressed us. He’s a really capable backup. We’re very confident in Joe.”
Returning players are also expecting to be even better.
“Last year I was getting used to the speed and the strength of defenders,” said James Burr, a sophomore who led the team in 15 goals in his first season. “Now that I’m used to that, working on little things like shots and passes to get better wherever I can.”
Incoming junior Jack Wilson was second on the team with 13 goals, and Polley sees him breaking out even more as an upperclassman.
“Jack Wilson has stepped up his game,” said Polley. “He’s been a big time scorer for us in the past. We’re expecting a big year from him. Hayden Ruiz is playing at a high level. The midfield has looked great.”
Offense has never been an issue for the Terriers, who scored 140 times last season. The defense, led by Greg Wozniak and Dominick Calisto, also showed promise. With Drew Lukacs now a sophomore, and freshman Chase Levesque in the picture as well, Polley and the team expects a defensive improvement.
“On the defensive side of the ball, it’s the same cast of characters,” Polley said. “We’re going to play a lot of the same guys as we did last year along with the addition of Levesque. They’re pretty steady in their roles.”
Saturday was just the first look at what this Terriers team can be, and the team is encouraged by the way the seniors and freshmen have worked together.
“In the early return from winter break, I think it was a good thing for us to get the team back,” Dearth said. “I thought we did great, us senior class looked good all the way down to the freshmen, who are really going to help the team this year.”
Polley said it best as to how the team is going to approach the season and the biggest difference from last season:
“Playing with nothing to lose compared to playing not to lose.”