Saturday is a day of lasts for No. 15 Boston University field hockey.
The team hosts Fairfield University Saturday in the fifth of five conference matches, but there is a larger scope to the game than just another 70 minutes of play.
Saturday’s matchup against the Stags (10–8, 1–3 America East) is the last game of conference play. The Terriers are currently second in America East rankings. With a win against Fairfield, they would maximize their chances for their fifth conference championship in fewer than 10 years. All that needs to happen is a loss for No. 19 University of New Hampshire (9–7, 4–0 America East) this weekend against No. 25 University of Maine (10–8, 2–2 America East).
Fairfield’s biggest threat is its endurance. In the second half, it has more corners, more shots and more goals than the cumulative total of its opponents over the duration of the season.
“Fairfield is a much-improved team,” said BU coach Sally Starr. “They’re a team that always plays hard. They’re a team that has many good individual players on it. They’re having one of the best seasons that they have had in a long time, and I know they’re excited about making the conference tournament for the first time.”
The Terriers (10–6, 3–1 America East) salute their seven seniors for their years of dedication to the team during the upcoming game with senior day. This is the seniors’ last home game in a BU jersey, so the players and coaches will honor their efforts.
However, one of the most influential players on the team will be unable to participate. Senior defender Jacinda McLeod, despite missing the upset on Sunday against No. 10 Northeastern University, is still tied with junior midfielder Ella Gunson as the top goal scorer on the team. However, due to a potentially career-ending injury to several ligaments in her leg, she must stand on the sideline for the remaining two games of the season.
“[McLeod’s injury] is a big loss to us,” Starr said. “I think she’s handling it well and it kind of made everyone else step up to fill that space … The entire team just matched her level of play and it’s good to see that.”
This weekend’s game is not just the last home game of the season for BU. It is the final game the team will ever play at Jordan Field. The crimson-tinted home away from home at Harvard University is to be replaced by the New Balance Field on Babcock Street in the 2013 season, which will become the Terriers’ official home field.
Starr said a real home field changes everything about the way the team can play.
“I can’t even begin to say what it means to the program,” Starr said. “First, it’s a real home field. I just watched the women’s soccer team play on Nickerson and you realize how much more spirit there is on campus for BU’s teams.
“Also, we can spend an extra half hour at practice instead of having to spend half an hour in vans every day. Add that up and it’s an extra two to three hours every week. We can get better at corner offense, corner defense and just overall play. Plus, it also helps recruit players for the upcoming season. I can just go on and on about what it means to have it.”
After Fairfield, the last game of the season is on Sunday against Yale. Even though it is the last weekend of play for the Terriers, they are still only focused on the Fairfield game ahead of them.
“This is, as always, a game we need to focus on.” Starr said. “We still need to take it one game at a time, finish the week with good practices, and go out and play two good games.”