By: Andrew Mason
BOSTON — Only three games remain in the regular season schedule for No. 22 Boston University Field Hockey before postseason tournament play begins. The 9-6 Terriers wrap up their 2017 road play at Lehigh on Saturday afternoon and Harvard on Tuesday night.
The Terriers have been red hot against Patriot League opponents this season – penciling in a perfect 4-0 record. If any team was going to knock BU off its first place PL ranking, chances are it wouldn’t be Lehigh. The 4-10 Mountain Hawks have struggled this year, with their only conference win coming against Lafayette in overtime.
However, Head Coach Sally Starr hasn’t underestimated Saturday’s opponent.
“Lehigh is a much improved team,” Starr said. “They’re very different than they’ve been in years past, so we’ve got to be ready to go down there and play a good game.”
Lehigh’s offense is led by forward Teresa Carotenuto, who has grabbed 15 points off of seven goals and an assist so far in her junior campaign. Other than Carotenuto, the Mountain Hawks don’t have much offensive activity, which could mean another great outing by Terrier goalkeepers Kathleen Keegan and Millie Baker.
Perhaps most importantly, Saturday’s game also holds playoff implications for BU.
“My understanding is if we were to win the game at Lehigh then we are guaranteed to host the conference tournament,” said Starr. “That’s plenty of motivation to go down there ready to compete.”
With BU’s lackluster record (1-4) against top ranked teams this season, the best shot for the Terriers to earn a spot in the NCAA National Tournament would be through an auto-bid earned by winning the PL Tournament. Because the Terriers own the tiebreaker with American, a win on Saturday would in fact seal New Balance Field as the host site for the PL Tournament, making auto-bid hopes that much more likely.
BU’s last road game and non conference game of the year comes three days after Lehigh at the hands of the No. 13 Harvard Crimson.
The Crimson’s 4-0 record inside the Ivy League shows the dominance this team plays with. BU’s last fight against a ranked opponent ended in a 3-2 overtime loss to No. 10 Boston College.
One main key to the Terriers’ success will come from limiting Harvard’s penalty corner attempts, which sits at nearly eight per game on the season. BU has been up and down all season with its defensive efficiency on corner situations, but certainly cannot give an offensively-skilled Harvard squad too many of these easy looks at the back of the cage.
No. 22 Boston University takes on unranked Lehigh on Saturday, Oct. 21 at 1 p.m. in Bethlehem, Penn., followed by a trip down the road at No. 13 Harvard on Tuesday, Oct. 24 at 6 p.m. That contest will be held across the Charles River in Cambridge, Mass.