By: Marisa Ingemi
(Photo: BU Athletics)
After a five game losing streak to end last season, there were plenty of questions around Boston University men’s lacrosse before 2017.
So far, one of those has been answered, and that is the 2017 edition of the team returns with the same resiliency we saw last season.
“We showed a lot of heart,” said freshman John MacLean. “Down the entire game, we never had a lead until the game winning goal, it showed a lot of heart. Good teams find a way to win.”
This is the third straight season the Terriers have begun 1-0, and the second season in a row they have faced UMass Lowell in their second contest of the year. It is the first time they have played at Cushing Field in Lowell.
“It was a play we ran all day,” said Brendan Homire of his goal. “Hayden [Ruiz] talked to me before the play, last time he threw it inside and I shot and scored.
“We knew it would be a fight. Faded past couple of years down the stretch, always good starts, goal is to start out hot and finish hot.”
Patriot League goalie of the week Christian Carson-Banister made 16 saves against Providence last Saturday, but faces a much different offense in week two. The Riverhawks had several key injuries last season, including to top attackmen Jon Philips and Austin Lane, who are both back this season.
Jack Wilson will bring a 27 game point streak to Saturday after scoring along with an assist against Providence last week. MacLean, meanwhile, scored his first career tally on Saturday and will look to start a run of his own.
“I think coaches have done a great job getting us up to game speed,” said MacLean. “Obviousy a lot faster than high school. Players are bigger, game speed is faster. I thought the freshmen and younger guys did a great job getting acclimated.”
MacLean settled in a role as the game went on in the midfield, but has been forced to attack at time with James Burr battling injury. The freshman handled the transition well, and if Burr isn’t limited, should be back in the role he’s known his entire high school career.
“Early on in preseason I was a little injured, my legs weren’t great, so coach moved down to attack,” said MacLean. “It’s a lot different, I’m more comfortable at midfield so hopefully I stay there.”
Despite his solid start to the season, the freshman out of Medfield still has a lot to learn.
“Just patience, its a big thing,” said MacLean. “Letting offense do its thing, defense getting rest. Using a little more vision. I have to improve there, with lax IQ, like I said its a lot faster. just keep getting used to it and improving.”
Although the Terriers started the season on a high-note against Providence, the Friars are in the rear view mirror now with the focus on UMass-Lowell.
Last season, Lowell held a 5-1 lead late into the third quarter, and the BU offense exploded to take an 8-5 lead, shutting down the River Hawks in the final two quarters, similar to the effort against the Friars this season.
“Last year we weren’t too thrilled with the effort early that game, we came out slow,” said Homire. “Freezing cold game, we’re expecting the same this season. They’re a tough, scrappy team, they win ugly and whatever it takes. We’re focused on trying to control pace, [head coach Ryan Polley] told us to just worry about controlling our game.”
Burr led the way with four goals last season, his career high. He was limited last week despite getting two shots on net. It remains to be seen if his role increases this weekend. If not, secondary scorers like Pat Myers and Homire have stepped up when needed.
“I’m seeing a lot,” said Homire about on-field maturity. “A bunch of seniors, and the freshmen and sophomores, are doing a great job. Seniors have done a great job leading us. Since fall, the message has been the same. It’s the goal, the Patriot League tournament, but its not about just getting there, but making some noise. Following the seniors lead, it’s been the big thing since day one.”
Like the Terriers, Lowell is a young team, just in its third season. They might be in a position to win games in the America East, however, if their roster is healthy. Even a strong season won’t do a ton, though, because the program is on three years probation from making the post season tournament to start out.
Sean Tyrell and Matthew Balter were key scorers last season with 20 goals each, and Sam Klingsporn is a force to be reckoned with in the midfield. He broke out against BU last season and, despite missing half the season, set his career high in points last season.
Klingsporn was difficult to defend from the midfield last season, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Terriers use a long pole up high, even though Dominick Calisto would be expected to play down low still.
This will be Lowell’s first look together as a unit since early last season as a healthy roster, and they’re looking to improve off a 4-12 season, so they will be trying to jump out to a big start. BU, after a slow start last week, will have to contend that.
Hot starts in the win column are nothing new for BU, but there’s still a lot of lacrosse to be played. Yet, it’s starting to feel like the Terriers are molding an identity.
“Coach preaches us finding our identity,” said Homire. “We talk about that, and I think ours has been fight to the end.”