Coming off of a thrilling last-second victory against Harvard University Friday night, the Boston University women’s lacrosse team has shifted its sights to the University at Albany, as it hosts the Great Danes on Nickerson Field Wednesday afternoon.
“Because [the Terriers] found success and got the win, I think they did build a little bit of confidence,” said BU coach Liz Robertshaw. “They’re more excited and more ready to get into more conference play.”
In their last meeting, the Great Danes (6-4, 1-1 America East) edged out the Terriers (3-5, 0-1 America East) 15-9 in BU’s final game of the 2012 season. Senior attack Danielle Etrasco had three goals in the game, despite the loss.
This season, after a shaky start, the Terriers will have their work cut out for them as they go up against the second-ranked offense in the America East Conference. The Great Danes are currently scoring just over 13 goals per game and sit in fourth place in the conference with a 6-4 record overall and a 1-1 record in the America East Conference.
The Great Danes have been able to rack up some impressive wins this season, including a lopsided 19-1 victory against Manhattan College on March 11.
Attack Rachael Burek leads Albany with 44 points this season on 19 goals and 25 assists, while midfielder Rachel Bowles leads the team with 24 goals this season and is sixth in the conference at just under three goals per game.
“We need to make sure that we manage our defense well and go out and play the kind of defense that we want to play in order to force the turnovers and shots that we want to see,” Roberstshaw said.
The Terriers’ defense will have to play well early and keep the attacking Albany offense at bay in order to win. At the heart of this defense is junior goalkeeper Christina Sheridan, who currently leads the America East Conference with slightly more than 10 saves per game.
“We’re going to see if we can go out there and put a little pressure on the ball if we can,” Robertshaw said. “But also double team well and try to finish it.”
For the Terrier attack, Etrasco will be the focal point of the offense, as her average of more than three goals per game is good for second in the America East Conference, while her 4.38 points per game is third-best in the conference.
“I think that our attack will need to be taking chances,” Robertshaw said. “We can’t play it safe, we can’t worry about one shot, we have to be taking a lot of shots against this defensive team and get a lot of opportunities to look at cage.”
This attack will be up against a Great Danes defense that is currently second in the conference in goals against, allowing just over seven goals per game to opponents.
However, the Danes rank last in the conference in saves per game with about five. In cage for Albany will be Anna Berman, whose .427 save percentage ranks ninth in the conference.
With the game balanced in all categories, possession is key, which means draw controls will play a key role in the outcome of the game. This season, the Terriers have struggled controlling the draw, as they rank last in the conference with just over nine draw controls per game. Albany sits in third in the conference, with 12 per game.
With a win against the Great Danes, the Terriers will move to .500 on the season in conference play and look forward to moving closer to the goal of regular season conference champions.
Robertshaw said her team has been improving in many areas, and will need to continue that in order to accomplish its goals.
“I think when our team has been more aggressive in playing our style of defense, finishing double teams, and looking to make plays happen, I think we’re seeing good things,” Robertshaw said.