By: Andrew Mason
BOSTON — A weekend filled with bitter rivalry and school pride sits on the horizon for No. 23 Boston University Field Hockey, first in a Turnpike Trophy matchup at Holy Cross Friday night followed by a battle with No. 10 Boston College at New Balance Field Sunday afternoon.
The Terriers are coming off a 6-1 win against Northeastern on Monday. The blistering win came thanks to four BU players finding the back of the cage, and near-shutout performances by goalkeepers Millie Baker and Kathleen Keegan.
BU now sits at 8-5 overall and 3-0 in Patriot League play. According to the most recent NCAA official rankings, the Terriers have moved up to No. 23, the only Patriot League member inside the Top 25.
Friday night’s matchup against the 5-7 Crusaders has more value than a usual conference game. It’s the field hockey chapter of the Turnpike Trophy – a year-long series between Patriot League rivals Holy Cross and BU where points are tallied up based on the schools’ head-to-head victories across all sports. In the two years of the friendly competition’s existence, the Terriers have yet to lose.
BU is leading this year’s Turnpike Trophy, 2-0, after victories in both men’s and women’s soccer. In order to build on their early success, the Terriers need to cap the play of Crusader forward Maureen Connolly. The senior has raked in 29 points this season – 12 goals and 5 assists – to lock herself in as the Holy Cross leading scorer.
As for the Holy Cross offense, it does not earn penalty corners very often – in fact it does so less than four times per game. The Terriers have tightened their corner defense lately, but it never hurts when the other side is poor at putting itself in these potentially high-scoring situations.
To finish off the weekend’s contests, BU renews the Green Line Rivalry with No. 10 Boston College. The two squads battled it out earlier this year in a late August preseason scrimmage, a game that ended in a scoreless draw.
The cross-town rivals have been red-hot this year, but ice-cold in conference play. The 9-5 Eagles are a winless at 0-5 in the ACC, albeit a rigorous conference that holds seven of the top 25 teams in the nation.
Unlike Holy Cross, the Eagles are great at earning penalty corners – almost six attempts per game. BC also presents a lockdown defense, anchored by sophomore goalkeeper Sarah Dwyer. The New Jersey native has recorded 57 saves and allowed just 27 goals through 14 games.
In order for BU to counter this stifling defensive unit, the Terrier veterans will need to continue to step up. The freshman core of Ailsa Connolly, Miya Denison and Petra Hall, will need to continue to find the back of the cage, but this team is at its best when the upperclassmen contribute to the scoring.
This has definitely been the story with seniors Allie Renzi and Kali Shumock – as well as with junior Maika Akroyd – ever since the calendar turned to October. However, the most notable individual performance comes most recently from senior captain Grace Boston, who was awarded last week’s Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week after her game-winning goal against American.
At this point in the season, non-conference games aren’t vital to BU’s playoff hopes. With a 1-4 record against ranked teams this season, there is not a lot of room for BU to grab an at-large bid in the NCAA National Tournament this November. If the Terriers have any shot of making it, it’s most likely going to come by way of an auto-bid via the Patriot League Tournament.
That being said, victories against BC and Harvard, who currently sits as No. 13 and takes on BU next week, could change that.
The Terriers take on College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. on Friday, Oct. 13 at 6 p.m. with the Eagles making their way to New Balance Field at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 15.