By: Marisa Ingemi
For the second season in a row, Boston University will open their season against the Friars of Providence College.
The Terriers concluded their preseason with a strong showing against Marist on Saturday, but one noticeable presence lacking was that of last year’s leading scorer, James Burr.
“He played a little bit in the first quarter and then he was out,” said head coach Ryan Polley. “The knee was bothering him again so he didn’t play as much. We do expect him to play this week in some capacity.”
Burr underwent offseason knee surgery, and he wasn’t involved in all of BU’s offensive sets. Polley says they have a rotation of seven set for the Providence game with Burr’s involvement making that set a group of eight depending on his availability.
Softening the blow of Burr’s potential lack of playing time is an emergence from freshman John MacLean, who scored a goal in the Marist game and has established himself as one of the top six on the team’s offense.
The Terriers also have plenty of versatility between their attack and midfield which showed looks of Cal Dearth, Pat Myers, and MacLean all at midfield, and those sets could continue into Saturday.
“With Burr out, we want to fill that third slot,” said Polley.
Meanwhile, the Friars bring a lot back from last season, including sophomore goalie Tate Boyce. Last season in this matchup, he made 12 saves while allowing nine goals.
Last season Will Mazzone drew the long pole of Dominik Calisto when these teams matched up. The Friars senior scored 39 goals last season to lead the team, so he should draw that match-up once more.
The rest of the Terriers defense, including freshman Chase Levesque who seems to have broken the starting lineup, will also have to look at incoming sophomore Brandan Kearns who scored 22 goals last season, along with senior Michael Perettine. BU goaltender Christian Carson-Banister faced just 11 total shots where he made six saves last season as the Terrier defense shut down Providence’s game down low near the goal.
The Friars made their first ever Big East tournament last season with a 7-9 record.
Providence tried to use long stick defender Jarrod Neumann, a first-team All-Big East player, at the face-off dot last season against Sam Talkow, a tactic that other teams mimicked as the year went on. Despite this, and some good looks from backup FOGO Joe Stucky in the preseason, Talkow remains the guy BU will rely on.
“He is one of the best in the country,” Polley said, reiterating Talkow was his number one guy. “He gives us opportunities to score off of the faceoff while allowing us to do many different things in the transition game. We can score a goal and then have him win the faceoff and score another one.”
One of the biggest concerns for the Terriers ahead of this contest is the aggressiveness of the Friars using a 10-man ride on clears. Clearing has been an area of struggle for BU, and while they have a focus to improve it with a more veteran team, Providence is going to challenge them right away.
“We just need to get more possessions and opportunities and take care of the ball,” Polley said. “Our offense has been stagnant at times so we need to move the ball a little more in order to get high-percentage shots. We have to go out and execute; it will be a huge challenge for us to go down there and play. We just want to play well and let the score take care of itself.”
Saturday is the first of four straight games on the road to open the season for the Terriers, and one of three out of conference road tests. Heading into conference play early in three weeks, a tough Big East team Providence is an excellent early season challenge.