Following its big upset against the No. 10 Northeastern Huskies, the No. 18 Boston University field hockey team’s coach Sally Starr spoke about finishing the season with two decisive wins against Fairfield University and Yale University to better its chances of making the NCAA Field Hockey Tournament.
The first of those two final games was extremely decisive as the Terriers managed to score six goals in the first half. They won the game in a 6–2 rout in the final game at Jordan Field on Oct. 27. The next day, the Terriers shut out the Bulldogs, 2–0, to close out a great season.
“I really felt our last week and a half we played really well,” Starr said following the announcement of this year’s NCAA tournament bracket.
Despite finishing the season 12–6 (4–1, America East), the Terriers were unable to secure an at-large bid and were denied a chance to showcase their skills in this year’s tournament.
“We had a really good practice week and the team knew there was a slim chance of making it, but they still worked,” BU coach Starr said.
BU’s decision to move many of its teams, including field hockey, from the America East conference to the Patriot League next season, brought some backlash for teams this season. This move led to all BU teams in the America East being banned from its conference tournament at the end of the season. Had the Terriers been allowed to compete in the America East tournament, they would have had a much simpler route to the tournament. By winning the conference tournament they would have earned an automatic bid into the tournament.
“I’m disappointed that we did not have the opportunity to compete in the America East championship. Also, when you look at three teams in that draw that we beat this year, and then another three we played very well against, it’s a bittersweet consolation,” Starr said.
The three teams that they beat were No. 12 Northeastern University, No. 17 University at Albany and No. 16 University of Massachusetts. All three wins came by one goal. It was even more impressive that the much needed victories against Massachusetts and Albany came on the road. Meanwhile BU took Northeastern to double overtime at home and pulled off the big win after junior midfielder Ella Gunson scored to complete a hat trick.
Starr said the Terriers played well against No. 5 Syracuse University, No. 7 University of Virginia and No. 4 University of Connecticut. BU hosted all three teams at Jordan Field and fell in very close games. The closest of all three was against UConn on Sept. 30. Starr said she thought the officiating in the game was questionable. In the last minute the Terriers had three corners, providing plenty of opportunities to tie up the game, but ultimately lost 3–2.
What really kept BU from earning the at-large bid this season were the trap games it had during the home stretch. In mid-October, coming off the solid performance against Connecticut and then two victories against the University of Vermont and Maine, the Terriers took their eyes off the prize.
On Oct. 14, BU travelled to Hempstead, N.Y. to take on an inferior Hofstra team, but it was shut out 1–0. Following the upset, the Terriers travelled up to Durham, N.H. on Oct. 19 and fell to the Wildcats, 1–0.
While the end of the season did not go exactly the way the Terriers wanted it to, there were still plenty of high notes this fall.
After joining the team as a walk-on a few years ago, senior goalkeeper Jess Maroney blossomed into the nation’s leading goalie in save percentage (.824). She and sophomore goalkeeper Valentina Cerda Eimbcke split playing time most of the season, but as the end of the season came closer, Starr and her coaching staff made the ultimate decision to name Maroney the full-time starter.
The Terriers achieved a milestone when they beat the Stags during their final game at Jordan Field. The victory was the 400th of Starr’s career.
Some returning players are goalie Valentina Cerda Eimbcke, leading team scorer Ella Gunson, freshman forward Sofi Laurito and freshman defender Katie Bernatchez. Laurito and Bernatchez both played extremely well during the final few weeks of the season. The Terriers will look to continue what they started this season next year as they open up their new field, New Balance Field.