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Women’s lacrosse battles injuries, tough schedule in final America East campaign

With 16 letter winners returning from a successful 2012 season, the Boston University women’s lacrosse team seemed poised for yet another successful campaign in 2013. However, a combination of injuries and a challenging schedule doomed the Terriers to an inconsistent final year in the America East Conference.

“I think that it was a character-building season,” said BU coach Liz Robertshaw. “I think we learned a lot about ourselves across the board … We had to learn how to play without key players throughout the year. We’ve had to learn a little bit about ourselves and what we can do and what I think we have to do better in the future.”

Entering the year, expectations were high for the Terriers (6-10, 2-4 America East), who were tabbed to finish second in the America East Conference in a preseason America East coaches’ poll.

The Terriers, who won the regular season conference title in 2012, their third title in four years, returned many players from their previous campaign, including senior attack Danielle Etrasco, who scored 80 points and was named an IWLCA All-American her junior year, and sophomore attack Mallory Collins, who was named the 2012 America East Rookie of the Year after scoring 46 points in 17 games.

However, the Terriers were dealt a tough blow before the season even started, as Collins, who scored 46 goals the previous season, tore her ACL before BU’s first game and missed the entire season.

For Robertshaw, the loss of Collins had a definite effect on the team’s offense this year.

“You lose your second leading scorer from the year before … it’s going to hurt you,” Robertshaw said. “I will not use [injuries] as an out or an excuse for us, I think that we as a team, and any team, have to learn how to deal with injuries.”

The Terriers had quite the daunting schedule this season, as eight of their 16 games were against teams that were ranked in the preseason top 20 by Inside Lacrosse FaceOff magazine.

Despite facing off against a slew of skilled opponents, the Terriers got off to a good start on the year, as they defeated the No. 14/12 ranked University of Massachusetts-Amherst by a score of 9-8 in overtime in their season opener, thanks to two goals apiece from Etrasco and sophomore attack Jenna Boarman.

Unfortunately, the Terriers could not replicate their success against UMass over their next few contests, as they dropped their next three games to No. 13 Dartmouth College, No. 10/6 University of Notre Dame and University of Denver to fall to 1-3 on the season.

However, the Terriers snapped their three-game skid in impressive fashion against No. 15 Ohio State University, defeating the Buckeyes (8-10) by a score of 16-11, thanks in large part to Etrasco, who set a new school record with 12 points (eight goals, four assists) in the contest.

Though the victory against Ohio State was encouraging, BU dropped its next two matches to Boston College and University Of Maryland-Baltimore County, falling to 2-5 on the year.

Despite suffering through another momentum-snapping losing streak, perhaps the biggest loss for the Terriers during that stretch occurred during the first half of the game against UMBC (8-8, 2-4 America East) when senior defender Monica Baumgartner went down with a knee injury.

After about a week of medical tests, it was revealed that Baumgartner, who started 15 games and was named to the America East All-Tournament Team last season, had torn her ACL and would miss the remainder of the season.

Despite the loss of Baumgartner, BU rebounded with the beginning of the conference schedule, as they won three out their next four games to raise their record to 5-6.

Unfortunately for the Terriers, they were unable to keep up their great play in the final stretch of the season, losing four out of their final five games to finish the year with a 6-10 record, including a 2-4 record against America East opponents.

One of the biggest causes for the team’s struggles this year rested in the Terriers’ inability to win games away from Nickerson Field. Despite a 4-3 record at home, BU was a disappointing 2-7 in road games.

Because BU was banned from America East postseason plan because it is moving to the Patriot League next season, the Terriers were not able to enter the America East postseason Championship, a tournament that BU has won six out of the last eight years.

The performances by the seniors were a huge part of the team’s production this year. Etrasco was once again named an IWLCA All-American, as she led the team in goals (59), assists (20) and points (79). It was the third-straight season in which Etrasco had scored at least 50 goals.

Senior midfielder Kristen Mogavero was also outstanding this season, as she finished second on the team with 40 goals. Despite playing in just seven games due to her knee injury, Baumgartner was a key member of the team’s defensive unit. Senior goalkeeper Kim Ellsworth was an integral part of the team’s goalkeeping duo, playing in five games and recording 11 saves.

For Robertshaw, the loss of these seniors will certainly be tough for the team as they move on to another conference.

“From a points production, you’re obviously going to miss Danielle and Mogo,” Robertshaw said. “You can’t just easily replace them. It’s going to be a lot to throw on the team’s shoulders next year … You want to be led by your seniors, and I think that was something that they tried hard to do.”

Other Terriers with solid campaigns include junior attack Elizabeth Morse, who finished the year with 24 goals, and freshman midfielder Sofia Robins, who recorded 15 goals in 16 games and was named to the America East All-Rookie Team.

Junior goalkeeper Christina Sheridan was excellent for the Terriers this year, as she finished the season with 129 saves and a .402 save percentage.

Despite not having the season that both she and the team wanted, Robertshaw said that she has high expectations for the Terriers in their first season in the Patriot League.

“I’m excited to start anew,” Robertshaw said. “I think this team is going to go out there and we’re going to be a group that wants to get back into championship competition, and that’s something that has already been stressed to me from the rising senior class, it’s also something that I know the freshman were not happy with how the season ended, and they told me that they were ready to work harder…

“From our perspective, we want to go out and play better every single day, and want to make teams really think twice about playing us. I just think that there’s a higher expectation going into a new conference and want to establish ourselves as one of the teams to beat.”

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