Last weekend, the No. 13 Boston University field hockey team started off the program’s tenure in the Patriot League on a strong note, being the first BU team to win a game against a conference opponent this season.
After falling behind early against Colgate University, the Terriers (5-2, 1-0 Patriot League) were able to respond with goals from freshman midfielder Hester van der Laan and sophomore midfielder Sofi Laurito to win the game.
This week, the team looks to continue its strong play as it welcomes two more opponents to New Balance Field, as BU will take on American University Saturday afternoon and Hofstra University Sunday afternoon.
With several backstories surrounding the games, the Terriers are in for a tough weekend of field hockey.
Only a month into the season, American (5-3, 1-0 Patriot League) and BU have had two common opponents. To start the year, the Eagles faced the University of Delaware in an exhibition game that went to overtime but ended in a 2-2 draw. Two weeks ago, American played against Miami University (Ohio) and lost 3-2. One of the Terriers’ first road games was against the very same team, as BU defeated the Redhawks (5-4) by a score of 1-0.
In their last game, the Eagles lost in double overtime, 3-2, to a very talented No. 10 Wake Forest University team.
Meanwhile, Hofstra (3-6) is coming off of a rough weekend, with games against No. 7 University of Massachusetts-Amherst and the University of Richmond. The Pride have lost three out of their last four games, and will be trying to get back in the right direction with their road trip up to Boston this weekend.
While there is no official rivalry between BU and Hofstra, BU might still have some animosity toward the Pride. Last year, as the Terriers were trying to earn an at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament, they suffered a tough 1-0 loss against Hofstra, which essentially knocked them out of contention for the bid. Because of the restrictions sanctioned by the America East Conference last year on all BU teams and with no at-large bid, the Terriers’ season was cut short, despite their 12-6 record.
In order for the Terriers to win this week, they will have to rely heavily on their midfielders, not only for scoring but also for ball control.
The Terriers will be without sophomore backer Rachel Coll, who recently suffered an ankle injury. Coll is an instrumental piece to BU coach Sally Starr’s defensive strategy. Therefore, the midfielders will need to control the tempo of the game and disrupt any opportunities for opponents to move into BU territory.
The loss of Coll is only made worse due to the fact that the Terriers just recently got past the injury of another sophomore backer, Katie Bernatchez. Earlier in the season Bernatchez was hit in the head, sidelining her for a few weeks with a concussion, and she is just beginning to play at full capacity once again. Despite the presence of experienced senior backer Ysi Schieb, the defense will lack depth against what will be a tough test against American, the top-scoring team in the Patriot League (2.81 goals per game).
Staying secure on defense will alleviate some of the pressure on junior goalie Valentina Cerda Eimbcke. While Eimbcke has been having a stellar season, relying on the goalie is not an ideal strategy for Starr and her team, particularly against Hofstra, which is second in the Colonial Athletic Association in shots per game (15.22).
Emphasizing ball control will provide more opportunities on offense for BU — an offense that has been scarce ever since the Terriers’ five-goal outburst to open the season against Ohio University. This will be crucial when facing American, which has the largest scoring margin in the conference (1.52).
Despite the tough loss of Coll, secure defense and ball control will be the keys for the Terriers this weekend as they forge ahead with the 2013 campaign.