By Andrew Mason
BOSTON — No. 25 Boston University Field Hockey came up big on Saturday morning in what was likely the most important game of the entire regular season. In a rematch of the 2016 Patriot League Championship Game – which BU lost 1-0 at home – the Terriers took down No. 24 American University, 2-1.
American and BU are the clear favorites to finish in first and second place in Patriot League standings, and will most likely face each other – for the fourth time in five years – in the conference final this postseason. The host site of the tournament goes to the winner of the Patriot League regular season.
Due to lackluster performances outside of conference play, including an 0-4 record against fellow ranked schools, BU’s best shot at making the NCAA Tournament this November will come from winning the league tournament. The winner of receives an automatic placement in the national tournament.
With BU’s win on Saturday, the Terriers have made a major push in securing home field advantage for the Patriot League tournament for the third year in a row.
“Hosting the Patriot League Championship is everything,” said Terrier defensive back Maika Akroyd. “When we can sleep in our own beds, when we can have our own locker room, it’s so important. You kind of have your own vibes before the game.”
Akroyd has stepped up big for the Terriers as of late. The junior from Gisborne, New Zealand, grabbed her first two career goals in recent games, including a penalty corner goal on Saturday against the Eagles of American.
“Playing more attacking, I have more opportunities to score those goals,” said Akroyd. “Attacking penalty corners, [Head] Coach Sally Starr’s just putting me in one of those lead roles which is real cool.”
The lone goal for the Eagles come from sophomore Kathryn Roncoroni, who tied the game up midway through the second half off of a penalty corner situation. But, less than two minutes later, BU senior Grace Boston was able to find the back of the net for the fourth time on the year, leading the Terriers to a 2-1 victory.
“We all made a huge effort trying to get the ball up the field,” said Boston. “I was just lucky to be in the right spot at the right time.”
A perfect 3-0 start in Patriot League play has put BU alone in first place in the standings. Despite the hot conference start, the overall 7-5 Terriers find themselves in their lowest spot on the Top 25 NCAA official rankings all year.
However, it seems as if many of the problems that plagued this Terrier squad earlier in the year are starting to patch themselves up. One area in particular is penalty corners.
On the defensive end, BU has done a much better job since league play began to not concede too many corner situations to the opposition. The Terriers held American to only three corner attempts all game, less than their season average of about 4.2 per contest. While this may seem like a small difference, it is truly significant considering most opponents scores against BU came from corners.
Offensively, Akroyd and fellow back Ally Hammel have produced in recent games. Both scoreless through the first nine games of the season, the junior-duo has put up five combined goals in the last three outings.
“[The corners] are starting to feel a little bit better in practice situations,” said Coach Starr. “If we couldn’t get a shot in the circle I wanted to get a corner, because I’m really starting to feel that the team’s getting a lot of confidence in our corner set piece.”
The Terriers will need to keep this improved corner play up as they finish off the rest of the regular season. BU travels next to Dedham, Mass. to face non-conference opponent Northeastern University.The Huskies are 7-5 overall and are currently hot, coming off a blistering 8-1 win over Hofstra.
BU vs. Northeastern is set to begin at 6 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 9 at Dedham Field.