In a bittersweet weekend homestand at New Balance Field, the Boston University field hockey team split two games against No. 17 Boston College and Providence College, respectively. The No. 19 Terriers came into the weekend having dropped two spots after losing a tough road matchup the previous week against Northwestern University.
The Terriers (4-2) took recent offensive struggles into their contest with the Eagles (5-1) Friday, having posted only four goals in their previous three games. Their goal-scoring woes continued against a stingy BC back line. Fortunately for the Terriers, however, their defense matched the prowess of the Eagles, and they were able to take a 0-0 score into the half, despite being outshot 10 to four and facing six corner opportunities from the aggressive Eagles. Great play from junior goalkeeper Valentina Cerda Eimbcke and a well-organized back line composed of senior Ysi Schieb, sophomore Rachel Coll, freshman Bea Baumberger Altirriba and junior Annie Fruitema contributed to BU’s defensive success.
“Corner defense has been a strength for us all season,” said BU coach Sally Starr. “That was the strength holding us in that half.”
BU increased its intensity in the second half but BC continued to manufacture scoring opportunities. The Terrier defense finally succumbed in the 60th minute, when Eagles midfielder Emma Plasteras received an assist from midfielder Romee Stiekema and hit a shot off of Eimbcke and into the left corner of the cage, providing the sole blow in a heartbreaking 1-0 loss for the Terriers.
“It hurts a lot right now,” Starr said of the loss to BC. “It was so close, we played a really good game tonight and had the opportunity to win it … You feel most badly for those seniors, because the BC game is a special game for them. They want that one as much as anything else.”
Just one day passed before BU went right back at it again, this time on Sunday against the Friars (3-3).
Perhaps still reeling from Friday night’s loss, the Terriers gave up an early corner to the Friars just three minutes into the game. Providence backer Henni Tietze fired a shot in off the corner set-up that deflected off the stick of forward Daniella Bernasconi and into the top of the cage to give Providence an early 1-0 advantage.
As the game progressed, the BU defense gradually settled down and kept the game at 1-0 going into halftime, due to spectacular play once again from Patriot League Goaltender of the Week Eimbcke.
“I just think that we survived the first half,” Starr said. “I was not pleased with how we played in the first half. I thought we were really reactive … we got taken out of our game in the first half.
“We talked at halftime about controlling the controllables. You can’t control the officials, you can’t control [their] hard play.”
Starr was able to inspire her Terriers for another aggressive second half. Four minutes into the half, BU earned a corner and converted it when Coll delivered a ball to Schieb, who assisted the scoring chance for Fruitema to even up the game at one apiece.
The score held at 1-1 as time ticked away in regulation, and the game entered into a tense 15-minute overtime period. In the sixth minute, the Terriers received a huge setback when freshman midfielder Hester van der Laan was called for high sticking and took a five-minute penalty. To make matters worse for the Terriers, less than a minute later, Coll took a two-minute penalty to give the Friars a 6 v. 4 advantage. Providence coach Diane Madl took a timeout to compose an attack plan.
“I was very thankful for that timeout,” Starr said, “because I had used mine earlier…and that allowed us to get a little more organized so that we could take the air out of the ball a little bit and really run time off the clock.”
Following the timeout, the Terriers stalled the clock and withstood the duration of the penalties from the back line through deft passing. In the 10th minute, Providence was awarded a penalty shot after a stroking penalty on Coll. Tietze hit the shot wide right, however, and lost a golden opportunity to snatch the victory for the Friars.
Finally, in the 85th minute, with time having expired, the Terriers were awarded the last corner of the first overtime period. Coll delivered a strike to Schieb, who set up a perfect opportunity for sophomore midfielder Sofi Laurito to unleash from the top of the semi-circle for her third goal of the season, and the decisive blow in a 2-1 struggle.
“We’re a Terrier, and I talked to them about playing with their tails up,” Starr said. “I think as soon as she [Tietze] missed that stroke, our tails were straight up, and we felt the life back into us.”