By: Greg Levinsky
BOSTON – There’s no one on the Boston University field hockey team more familiar with finding the back of the cage than sophomore Ailsa Connolly. The Terrier’s leading scorer for the entirety of her collegiate career scored twice in Saturday’s 5-1 win over Patriot League rival Lehigh University.
For the first time in her career, sophomore Maggie New scored. When she did, New made sure to make a playful jab at her teammate.
“As soon as I scored I looked up for Ailsa because she always teases me that I never score,” New said.
New’s first career goal came as part of a victory ensuring a Patriot League regular season title for the Terriers (9-5, 5-0), as well as hosting rights for the conference championship for the fourth-straight year.
“We’re very pleased,” Connolly said. “That’s the team’s first challenge that we try to win every year, so now that we’ve done that again it’s really impressive and we’re very happy.”
It was a day of firsts, as New scored her goal and fellow sophomore Shannon Ma earned her first career start at home. Head coach Sally Starr said her players are under constant evaluation. The rotation is fluid.
“Everybody’s working hard, evaluated every day,” Starr said. “People are taking advantage of the minutes they are getting, and I think it’s a program and a team that always works hard to be better.”
Senior Kara Enoch scored the game’s opening, her fourth goal of the season, just over three minutes into the contest. New followed to double the lead and Connolly scored her her seventh and eighth of the year in the second half. Her goals were separated by less than two minutes.
“Of course she doubled me and got two goals,” New said. “I’m proud of us, we played well at home and get to host the Patriot League which is super exciting.”
Connolly led the team in scoring with 11 goals as a freshman en route to All-Conference second team honors and regained the team lead against Lehigh. A selection to the Patriot League Preseason All-League team, her score went through the goalkeeper’s leg, and the second was a ferocious blast to the top corner.
“I’ve just got to put the ball on the cage and see what happens,” Connolly said. “The first one that’s how it went down. The second one nearly killed Kara, but she’s alright.”
Senior co-captain Ally Hammel scored her fourth goal of the season before Lehigh (2-14, 1-5) got on the board a corner as time ran out. BU extended its regular season conference winning streak to 14 games.
“To clinch the regular season championship with one game remaining in a tough Patriot League, I’m really proud of what this team has achieved so far this season,” Starr said.
They have a chance tomorrow to avenge their NCAA Tournament loss from last fall. It’ll be a quick turnaround for the Terriers, who host defending national champion University of Connecticut, the nation’s fifth-ranked team on Sunday afternoon.
“The biggest thing right now is to take care of our bodies nutritionally and physically,” Starr said. “Take care of hydration, nutrition, eat well, and get a good nights sleep tonight because I know we’ll be excited for the opportunity to play an outstanding UConn team tomorrow.”
BU has three more regular season games before hosting the conference tournament for the third-straight year.
The nine-member sophomore class, is two-for-two in Patriot League regular season titles. They hope to continue their success for the rest of their careers.
“We want to keep this going all four years,” New said.
Greg Levinsky can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregLevinsky