They are undefeated in their conference. They are on track for an at-large bid in the NCAA tournament. They have more accolades this season than any other school in the American East conference, yet they still focus only on the next game, the next step to a championship.
The No. 12 Boston University field hockey team (8–4, 2–0 America East) hosts the University of Maine (9–5, 2–0 America East) Friday for a clash between undefeated conference opponents. But perfect conference records are not the focus for the Terriers, said BU coach Sally Starr — the focus is just to win.
“The biggest thing right now for us is not to be distracted with [the postseason,]” Starr said. “We really just need to take care of the competition at hand … [we’ve] got to go one day at a time to get better in practice, and one game at a time to compete as best [we] can.”
These two teams last met in an exhibition game in August that resulted in a 2–1 loss for the Terriers, but Starr said the result predicts nothing. BU had neither of its goaltenders at the time — they actually used one of Maine’s goaltenders for the game — and the point was to get as many players as much playing time as possible, rather than winning.
About two months later, BU is at full strength with two goalkeepers — senior Jess Maroney and sophomore Valentina Cerda Eimbcke — both of whom have been honored as players of the week by the America East this year.
Furthermore, BU boasts an America East Player of the Week this week as well. Junior midfielder Ella Gunson was given the title because of her two goals in the 4–2 victory over the University of Vermont last Saturday. Gunson is also known for her part on the New Zealand Olympic field hockey team that came in fourth place in the London games over the summer.
Gunson is the latest of seven Terriers to win the award. BU makes up one-third of the 21 players named thus far in the season.
“[These awards] really speak to the strength and the overall depth that we have in the program,” Starr said. “We have backs getting it, we have mid-[fielder]s getting it, we have attackers getting it. We just have a very talented team.”
The main threat from the Black Bears is their attack. Ten players have collectively put 33 balls in the net. Their two most prominent goal scorers are sophomore Annabelle Hamilton and freshman Cassidy Svetek who have eight and seven goals, respectively.
The Terriers also dominate in the attacking third, but the defense is what sets them apart from Maine. Jess Maroney’s 82.6 percent save rate dwarfs the 71.4 percent rate of Maine’s primary goalkeeper, senior Alicia Frisch. The main goal-scorer for the Terriers is a member of the defense as well. Senior Jacinda McLeod has six of the team’s 24 goals.
“Our strength right now is generating an excellent attack,” Starr said. “We continue to defend very well, really limiting the chances of other teams. Our outletting is also a strength right now. We do very well building the ball out of our backfield.”
Friday night is Boston University Field Hockey Bus Day. BU is providing free transportation to one of the last home games of the season. Buses run from 5:30 p.m. until 7 p.m., and the game starts at 6:30 p.m. The first 50 students will receive a free hot dog, courtesy of Spike’s Junkyard Dogs.
“Field hockey is a great game,” Starr said. “It’s fast-paced. It’s a great spectator sport. We have a very talented team, and I think if people come out to [watch,] then they will really enjoy themselves.
“The Maine-BU game is always very competitive, but we are definitely in control of our destiny. It’s just a matter of taking everything one game at a time. Every game is almost a conference tournament for us.”