By: Greg Levinsky
In their longest trip of the 2018 slate, the Boston University field hockey squad travels 1,000 miles west to Evanston, Illinois for contests against ninth ranked Northwestern and Miami University this weekend.
After an opening weekend sweep at the Wildcat Classic in New Hampshire, the Terriers (2-2) dropped from 19th to 24th in the NFHCA Coaches Poll after losses to then-25th ranked Maine and 24th ranked Ohio State. BU fell 2-1 on Friday to Maine before a 4-2 defeat to Ohio State. Both losses came at home on New Balance Field.
“These are the games that can make us a lot better in September and towards October,” Boston University head coach Sally Starr said after the second game. “We just have to learn from it and get better.”
BU faces Miami (3-2) on Saturday and ninth-ranked Northwestern (3-2) on Sunday afternoon as part of a four game road swing that spans two weekends.
The Terriers topped Miami in bouts the past two seasons, and bested Northwestern during their last meeting in 2016.
Sophomore Ailsa Connolly paces BU with four goals on the young season, and senior Ally Hammel has two goals and four assists. Freshman Casey Thompson has also provided a spark off the bench with a pair of goals and one assist.
Starr referenced a sharpened mental approach as a key to success.
“I’d like to see us be more intelligent, take care of the ball,” Starr said. “Defensively, we can be better.”
Miami’s roster features former Terrier Hana Sinno. The junior transferred to join the Redhawks but is sitting out this fall due to NCAA transfer rules. She has three years of eligibility remaining starting next fall.
Of eligible players, senior Paula Portugal leads Miami with four goals and one assist, and sophomore Lexie Nugent has two tallies for the Red Hawks.
Northwestern moved up three spots in the NFHCA Coaches Poll after the Wildcats downed both 20th ranked Stanford and 13th ranked Boston College.
Senior Puck Pentenga leads Northwestern with four goals and as many assists. Redshirt junior Kristen Mansfield has assisted on five Huskies goals, and has found the back of the cage twice herself. Junior Saar De Breij rounds out a stellar offensive trio with a goal and two assists.
Through four games, the Terriers have outscored opponents by four and outshot competitors by 16. BU also has nearly double the shots on goal percentage (.608) to that of their foes (.343).
Thanks to a strong defense, Terrier goalies have been required to save just five shots and have allowed seven goals. Sophomore net minder Millie Baker owns the team’s best save percentage at .60 percent, and the goalie trio of Baker, junior Livy Golini and senior Kathleen Keegan has .417 save percentage. Opponents have stopped nearly 65 percent of Terrier shot attempts.
The Terriers face Miami at noon on Saturday and Northwestern at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday.