By: Andrew Mason
STORRS, CONN. — Just three days after posting its second shutout victory of the postseason against Fairfield on Wednesday, Boston University Field Hockey moves on to Round 1 of the NCAA National Tournament, where the No. 1 University of Connecticut Huskies await.
Before the Terriers turned their attention to UConn (19-0), they got one final look at New Balance Field in a play-in game against Fairfield University. In similar fashion to the 2015 opening-round matchup between the Terriers and the Stags, BU handled its business with ease, cruising to a five-goal victory.
Coming off a game-winner against Bucknell, senior Allie Renzi grabbed a quick goal against Fairfield just over five minutes into the game. As the Terriers have done on numerous occasions this season, they capitalized on this early momentum.
Within the next 10 minutes, midfielder Kiley Gallagher and forward Miya Denison piled on one goal each, making it a dominant 3-0 halftime lead. The scoring was not done for BU, as Renzi and Gallagher tallied one more a piece in half number two, sealing the 5-0 victory.
Gallagher has turned on the jets since the start of the postseason, where she has scored four of six total goals in her sophomore campaign.
“[Gallagher’s] work rate is high, and she’s competing, she’s playing smart,” Head Coach Sally Starr said. “It’s making us a better team.”
Without disregarding the Terriers’ offensive efficiency as of late, BU’s postseason has been defined by its defense. Wednesday was no exception. Not only did the Terriers not give up a single goal, but they lasted the full 70 minutes without allowing the Stags one penalty corner.
Goalkeepers Millie Baker and Kathleen Keegan have put up phenomenal playoff numbers while protecting the cage. The two have combined for an 89 percent save rate through the first three games.
BU’s win was made even more special due to the fact that it was Starr’s 450th win at BU.
“I’m so happy it was on [New Balance Field],” said Starr. “[We get] to keep playing, so it’s definitely going to be a memorable victory for us.”
However, the Terriers had little time to celebrate. Their Round 2 matchup could not be tougher, as they travel to Storrs, Conn. to face the best team in the nation. Saturday will be a rematch of the 8-1 blowout the Terriers suffered at the hands of the Huskies in mid-September.
It was Charlotte Veitner who absolutely demolished the Terriers’ defense in that game. The Big East All-Tournament senior notched four goals, capping off the worst loss for BU in 2017.
“We’re just excited for the opportunity to play UConn,” said Starr. “They absolutely spanked us the first time they played us.”
Since their September meeting, the Huskies have not slowed down. In their last six games, the Huskies have scored 25 goals while allowing only one to opponents, a clear recipe for success.
This time around, the Terriers cannot let UConn get off to any scoring runs, a task made difficult by Huskies like Veitner (28g, 11a), as well as senior Casey Umstead (14g, 16a).
In order to get points on the board, the Terriers will need to deal with Umstead yet again, the 2017 Big East Defensive Player of the Year. In goal, Nina Klein always poses a threat, saving about 83 percent of the shots sent her way.
Simply earning penalty corners will not be enough for BU. With a push from juniors Ally Hammel and Maika Akroyd, the Terriers will need to convert on any corner chances they come across.
No. 20 Boston University looks to extend their season in a win-or-go-home battle against No. 1 University of Connecticut on Saturday, Nov. 11. The game is set to begin at 11:30 a.m. at Sherman Complex.