By Andrew Mason
BOSTON – Boston University Field Hockey is now 2-0 in Patriot League play, thanks to a 5-1 win at Colgate University on Friday. The No. 22 Terriers improve to an overall 6-4, but host one of their toughest games of the season on Sunday against the No. 2 Blue Devils of Duke University.
Offense for the visiting Terriers was firing on all cylinders Friday, with four different players contributing to the point total.
Forward Ailsa Connolly continued her recent hot streak with a goal in the first half. The freshman holds the team lead with seven goals on the season, four in the last three games. Sophomore Kiley Gallagher also snuck one past Raider goalkeeper Maria Krull, for her second goal on the year.
But the story that may be the most important going forward for BU centered around the team’s upperclassmen.
Veteran Ally Hammel, one of the Patriot League’s most premiere defensive players, finally got her groove going on the offensive end Friday afternoon. Hammel grabbed her first two goals of the season by way of penalty corners, an area this team has struggled with.
Hammel, a junior from Duxbury, Mass., has been having difficulty this year finding the back of the cage. Over her first two years with the Terriers, Hammel scored 11 times on 24 shots on goal. Through the first nine games of 2017, her eight shots on goal converted to zero points for BU.
The Terriers need to do a better job taking advantage of corner situations, where Hammel gets most of her chances to score. Friday’s performance against the Raiders suggests they may be ready to turn things around.
The corner offense found success against the Colgate Raiders once again by the play of an upperclassmen, when Junior Maika Akroyd snatched her first collegiate goal.
In goal, Kathleen Keegan and Millie Baker split minutes down the middle once again – 35 minutes each. With both goalies defensive threats, the Raiders were only able to find the back of the cage one time. The Raider score came midway through the second half when senior Caroline Schaefer tipped one in past Keegan.
Friday was Baker’s second start of the season, a role that was reserved for Keegan through the first eight games. Head Coach Sally Starr seems content on continuing to the split the minutes evenly for her two goalkeepers.
The Terriers were able to return to the ways of their early four game winning streak in limiting Colgate to just two corner situations, as opposed to BU’s seven. Many of the Terriers’ losses this season have come from dealing inadequately – on both offense and defense – with penalty corners.
Fortunately for BU, Sunday’s opponent – the Duke University Blue Devils -– has not had much luck converting corners all year. Duke has two goals from corners despite 53 attempts.
However, the Blue Devils make up for it elsewhere. The No. 2 ranked team in the nation holds a 8-1 record, with six wins coming against Top 25 teams.
The Blue Devils’ defense is the reason they are so deadly. Through nine games, Duke has posted five complete shutouts. Duke’s goalkeeper, redshirt sophomore Sammi Steele, has recorded 35 saves, with only eight goals allowed so far in her 2017 campaign.
The Terriers’ offensive threats – particularly Connolly (7g), Grace Boston (3g, 2a) and Kali Shumock (5a) – will need to be on their ‘A-game’ in order to put up some points against one of the country’s best defensive squads.
It is possible that Duke may come out slow on Sunday due to an extended game against Boston College on Friday that ended in a shootout. The Blue Devils ultimately won the game 3-2, but the fatigue of a longer game could very well come into play against the Terriers.
BU and Duke square off Sunday, Oct. 1 at 1 p.m. on New Balance Field.