By: Marisa Ingemi
It’s no secret Boston University has narrowly missed out on the post season for the past two seasons. With losing streaks to end the last two years, BU has fallen on the last day of the regular season to Holy Cross, and thus are still yet to play in a playoff contest.
This year, they’re looking for that to change.
“I think [we’re] just taking another step,” said head coach Ryan Polley. “Just missing out on the playoffs, the team has continued to grow. Being over .500, making the tournament, and finishing the year. We’ve ended the past two years on losing streaks, we have to figure out what it is causing that. We need to play the full season, and not let one result affect the next result.”
“We’d love to make the Patriot League tournament,” said senior midfielder Cal Dearth. “It’s been tough the past couple of years, that’s our number one goal.”
BU ended last season on a four game losing streak after climbing all the way to an 18th rank in the nation with wins over Navy and Harvard. Those victories last season proved that BU can play with the best.
“I don’t think we have any doubt we can beat any team on our schedule,” said sophomore attack James Burr, who scored the overtime winner against Navy last season. “Having that confidence, and knowing we should have made the tournament last year, we have that chip on our shoulder and being looked at as underdogs, and we think we’re as good as anyone else, that will help us this year.”
The Terriers were able to defeat Navy in double overtime on Nickerson Field, a team which at the time was ranked 16th; the highest-ranked team BU had ever defeated. Less than two weeks later, they went into Harvard and defeated a 12th-ranked Crimson team.
The conference itself is a difficult task, despite Navy losing top attack-man Casey Rees. Loyola is coming off a championship weekend appearance and hasn’t lost much, giving the Terriers more challenges every single week.
“I think it’s arguably the third best conference out there,” said Polley, who cited the Ivy League and ACC. “Loyola’s a final four team and they’re adding a lot back. They have a lot of pieces. They’re looking great.”
Beyond those top two teams, the Terriers will still have to battle week in and week out.
“Bucknell is going to be excellent, Army is always tough, Lehigh, it’s a murderers row and Holy Cross is getting better,” Polley said. “We’re getting our program to where the expectations is to get into the playoffs. We’re very competitive, we’re looking forward to it being a blood bath every single week.”
One key for BU is being back healthy, and starting the year at least with a lineup that believes it can contend against anyone.
“All our guys are healthy and we have 10, 11 guys who can play attack and [midfield],” said Burr. “Having depth, it’s huge for us.”
The out of conference schedule is equally as difficult, and the Terriers road to competing in the Patriot League begins with a four game road trip to open the year.
“We’re pretty close, so it’s not as if we have to go overnight or anything like that,” said Polley. “We’re comfortable here, but you have to go on the road for at least four games in the conference. Providence is very well coached and we’re looking forward to playing those guys. We’ve had three really good games with them. Lowell gave us all we could handle last year, and Hartford made it to the league finals last year and they’re much improved.”
On the road at Navy is the final game of that trip, but it doesn’t get easier even when the Terriers return, making the start of the season a worthy test.
“First four games are tough but the schedule is tough, we’ve added Air Force and Bryant and feel those out of conference games will get us ready for the wars of the Patriot League.”