By: Greg Levinsky
With a bid to the NCAA Tournament at stake, the 2018 Patriot League Field Hockey Championships are set for Friday and Sunday at New Balance Field in Boston.
Seven teams compete in Patriot League field hockey, but only the top four play in the postseason tournament. The seeds are as follows: Boston University, American University, Bucknell University and Lafayette College.
Friday, 11:30 a.m. No. 1 Boston University (10-7, 6-0 Patriot League) vs. No. 4 Lafayette College (8-7, 4-2)
The Terriers intruded Lafayette’s home turf and stormed the Leopards for a 7-4 win in their regular season matchup. Boston University head coach Sally Starr said her team’s offensive outburst was fairly shocking.
“I was surprised we scored seven goals on them, quite honestly,” Starr said. “They’re a good team, well coached.”
Freshman Molly McAndrew leads Lafayette with seven goals and four assists. Junior Lisa van der Geest has six goals and six assists, and senior Theresa Delahanty, an NFHCA Senior All-Star Game selection, has five goals and six assists. Seven Leopards have at least three goals, demonstrative what Starr said is their “ability to counterattack.”
“They’re a really good passing team. They’re a disciplined team,” Starr said. “We’ve really got to be ready to play an outstanding hockey game.”
Sophomore Ailsa Connolly leads all Terrier scorers with nine goals and three assists. Senior co-captain Ally Hammel, also an NFHCA Senior All-Star Game nominee, has six goals and five assists. Sophomore Petra Hall has six goals and three assists to round out BU’s top scorers.
BU ended its regular season at Boston College, and took Monday off before returning to practice ahead of the conference tournament. Starr said recovery, hydration and nutrition are a major focus beyond practice time on New Balance Field.
“It’s really important just to come in with a full gas tank,” Starr said. “We’re a little nicked up, not too bad for this time of the season.”
On the field, it’s all about maintaining and improving on current strategy.
“It’s just fine tuning,” Starr said.
Friday, 2:30 p.m. No. 2 American University (8-8, 4-2) vs. No. 3 Bucknell University (10-7, 4-2)
American downed the Bucknell Bison in their regular season matchup 1-0 on the road in Lewisburg, PA. The league’s top two defenses matchup in this semifinal contest, as both teams allowed less than 1.75 goals per game.
Bucknell passed the Eagles in the conference semifinals last year despite falling in the regular season, and hope to repeat their luck as the lower seed once again. Junior Brittany Willwerth leads the Bison with seven goals and eight assists. Senior Lexi Quick is tied for the team-lead with seven goals and has assisted on six. Classmate Nicole Rupnik rounds out a stellar offensive trio with six goals and two assists.
Reigning Patriot League Rookie of the Year Noor Coenen leads the Eagles with nine goals and six assists. Senior Rafaela Rubas, who earned the conference’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2017, has six goals and seven assists. The Eagles boast a well-rounded offense with 10 multi-goal scorers. Their 47 goals are the team-high in the Patriot League.
Senior goalkeeper Maura Jacobs backstopped the Eagles with a Patriot League-best .753 save percentage. Bucknell junior goalie Olivia Harris was right behind at a .746 mark.
Boston University won their third conference title in four years last season at New Balance Field. American is the most recent non-Terrier to claim a title, stealing an NCAA Tournament bid in Boston in 2016 as well as 2013 in the nation’s capital.
The Patriot League championship will be on Sunday Nov. 6 at 12:00 p.m. between the winners of Friday’s semifinal matchups.
Greg Levinsky can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregLevinsky