By: Andrew Mason
BOSTON — In a championship battle that top-seeded Boston University trailed in for the majority, it was senior Allie Renzi’s goal with 2:25 remaining that lifted the Terriers over No. 3 Bucknell, 2-1.
Sunday marked the third Patriot League crown in four seasons for BU (13-7), who now waits will face the Fairfield Stags in a play-in game for the NCAA National Tournament.
Playing for their postseason lives, BU’s Kiley Gallagher intercepted a soft pass from Bucknell’s Lexi Quick. With a fast break opportunity in mind, Gallagher passed it off to Renzi on the left side of the goal, who scooped it up and in over goalkeeper Emily Finn.
“I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it right now,” said Head Coach Sally Starr. “I said to her, ‘you’re going to get a chance, stay calm on the ball, and bury it for us.’”
Renzi noted how the scenario was a flashback to last year’s title match in which her late shot to tie the game was saved by American’s goalkeeper in acrobatic fashion.
“I’m not missing this year,” Renzi said recalling her mindset throughout the shot. “[The goalie’s] not saving it this time.”
Despite the game-winning goal, Sunday was first and foremost a defensive fight between the Patriot League’s top two defensive units. Finn looked to continue her spectacular postseason play, coming off a semifinal performance of 11 saves and a perfect shootout against American. On the other side, BU was anchored by Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year, junior Ally Hammel.
In a different pace than usual for the Bison, they applied offensive pressure early on. A Bucknell team that only scored 11 goals against conference opponents all season scored less than 10 minutes into the game when freshman Leah Fogelsanger smacked one in past BU’s Millie Baker.
The Bison’s midfield pressure, and excellent defense on BU’s penalty corners, kept the Terriers off the scoreboard until the 64th minute of action. The drought was ended during a corner situation when Gallagher scored off a redirected pass from Hammel.
With the score tied, and the clock ticking away at one team’s life, both the Bison and the Terriers employed smothering frontline defense. As the game progressed to its final minutes, BU’s defense was able to force the turnover that led to Renzi’s clutch score and ultimately decided the game.
2017 marks the 13th NCAA Tournament appearance for Starr. The 37th year head coach started the week receiving her third straight Patriot League Coach of the Year honor, and concluded it celebrating a conference title.
“Right now we are just going to celebrate today…a really hard fought Patriot League championship,” Starr said. “Then we’ll just take it one game at a time.”
With one assist throughout the tourney, senior co-captain Kali Shumock was named the tournament’s MVP.
“We were just out there as [a team] and that’s what helped us win,” Shumock surmised.
The official bracket for the 2017 Field Hockey NCAA National Tournament is set to be released on NCAA.com at 10 p.m. EST. BU’s opponent will travel to New Balance Field on Wednesday for a play-in showdown.