Notebook: Second-half struggles hold back women’s lacrosse

In the past three games, the Boston University women’s lacrosse team has gotten off to fast starts but has struggled to finish strong. With a record of 1-2 over this stretch, second half production has taken a noticeable dip.

During this time, the Terriers (6-9, 2-4 America East) have scored just 12 goals in the second half as opposed to 32 in the first part of the year.

“In general, the second half is where you start to show a little bit of fatigue,” said BU coach Liz Robertshaw. “And I think with our team not having the depth that we’ve had in the past … I think that’s going to hurt us.”

Against No. 10 Stony Brook University, the Terriers played tough in the first half, heading into the locker room only down two goals, 10-8. In that first half BU was aggressive, getting to the net and taking 13 shots, but they gave up 18 shots.

The second half was similar as the Terriers took 11 shots and allowed 19 shots from Stony Brook (14-2, 6-0 America East).

In their next game against Yale University, the story was similar. In the first half the Terriers got out to a 12-6 lead, taking 19 shots and forcing seven turnovers, but in the second half they took only 10 shots and committed nine turnovers. Despite being outscored in the second half, 9-4, BU still came away with the victory.

“I also think, in the second half, like any good team, teams are going to start scouting,” Robertshaw said. “And they know the adjustments to make.”

Defensive struggles

Despite this 1-2 stretch for the Terriers, they have found success offensively, scoring 44 goals. The defense, however, has had issues, giving up an average of 17 goals a game.

In their last game, against Cornell University, the Terriers were part of a high-scoring first half, with 12 goals from each team, but in the second the Big Red (10-5) scored two late goals to come away with the victory.

“We’re giving up too many shots,” Robertshaw said. “I don’t think we’ve been as locked down in the cage as the beginning of the season.”

Over the course of the game, each team took a high number of shots with the Terriers outshooting the Big Red, 32-27, but free position opportunities proved to be the deciding factor. The Terrier defense was constantly harassed by the Cornell onslaught, which resulted in the Big Red being awarded six free-position shots, translating into four goals.

Against Stony Brook, the Terriers allowed 37 shots from the Seawolves and committed 11 fouls that resulted in free-position shots, six of which they converted for scores.

Looking to make a change, Robertshaw inserted senior goalkeeper Kim Elsworth into the cage in relief of junior Christina Sheridan, who spent the majority of the season in goal for the Terriers. In the past two games, Elsworth played a total of about 60 minutes and racked up six saves.

“We’ve addressed it as a defensive unit,” Robertshaw said. “You start to get a little fatigued and there starts to be a lack of discipline.”

Draw controls

One of the problems that has plagued the Terriers this season is draw controls. In its first few games BU struggled to beat out its opponents in this category, but lately the team has shown improvement, increasing its number of controls and gaining possessions for its potent attack.

“It’s a big deal,” Robertshaw said. “It’s something that we’ve worked hard on.”

This improvement in the draw control circle came up huge against Yale (8-7) when in the game’s final two minutes the Bulldogs scored to come within one goal and needed to win the draw in order to have a chance to tie the game.

Senior attack Danielle Etrasco, who has provided a much-needed boost in the draw control category of late, stepped into the circle and won the draw for the Terriers, who then ran the clock and came away with the victory.

In their close, one-goal loss to Cornell, the Terriers trailed in draw controls by just three at 20-17 in favor of the Big Red with one of their key controls coming late in the second half that led to a goal with just over a minute remaining.

“The production on the draw controls from [freshman midfielder] Jill Horka, Danielle Etrasco, and [freshman midfielder] Sofia Robins has been huge,” Robertshaw said. “Seeing two freshmen get it done shows a lot for our future, and it also shows that they are fearless in the way they’re playing and I think that’s something that’s been great for the team.”

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