In a pair of intense back-to-back games, the No. 20 Boston University field hockey team split its weekend homestand against American University and Hofstra University at New Balance Field.
The Terriers (6-3, 1-1 Patriot League) faced American (6-3, 2-0 Patriot League) Saturday and Hofstra (4-7) Sunday.
Looking to avoid falling behind early, BU came out flying against the Eagles, earning its first two attack penalty corners and registering its first shot in the opening minutes of play.
“That had actually been a weakness for us in previous games,” said BU coach Sally Starr. “I think particularly the first five, 10, 15 minutes had been slow starts, we’d been giving up early goals. ‘Right from the start, play smart’ was our motto for this game, and we really wanted to start fast.”
As the first half progressed, BU’s level of play seemed to wind down, but the Terriers came back rejuvenated in the second half, earning their sixth penalty corner of the game in the 38th minute and rifling off 17 shots in the second half alone. By the end of regulation, BU would have 12 penalty corners and 21 shots to American’s four and five, respectively.
“If you would have told me before the game we would outshoot them 22 to whatever and, in the second half, really out-stat them as significantly as we did, there’s no way I would say that that would happen, so I’m really, really pleased with our performance as a hockey team today,” Starr said.
Despite firing a whopping 22 shots, BU was unable to find the back of the net, due, in part, to an impressive 12-save performance by American goalkeeper Ashley Dalisera. It also didn’t help that the Terriers seemed incapable of capitalizing on many of their opportunities around the cage, sending shots wide, having shots blocked and not always being in the ideal position to score.
70 minutes was not enough time to decide a winner, so the two teams went into overtime, knotted at a score of 0-0. BU had one shot in the overtime period, while American had three, and three was all it took.
The Eagles earned an attack penalty corner in the 82nd minute of play and, after a preliminary shot by senior Shelly Montgomery was blocked, scored on a rebound from the right side as midfielder Grace Wilson slipped one past junior goalkeeper Valentina Cerda Eimbcke, effectively ending the game and cementing BU’s third loss of the season into the record books.
“It’s a loss, but I feel that in every other aspect we just played a really tremendous hockey game,” Starr said. “We dictated the second half, absolutely dominated, had so many scoring opportunities … We have to look at the tape and figure out where we’re not scoring [and] why we’re not scoring.”
And figure it out they did.
The Terriers replicated Saturday’s intensity on Sunday afternoon, consistently keeping the pressure on Hofstra and all but silencing its “potent … run and gun” offense, as Starr described it.
For the first time in three weeks, it was BU who opened the scoring. After the Terriers earned an attack penalty corner in the 15th minute of the game, senior midfielder Anne Fruitema fired a shot from the top left of the circle off of a feed from senior midfielder Madeleine Hackett and senior backer Ysi Schieb to give BU a 1-0 lead with her third goal of the season.
Hofstra would answer in the 27th minute of play as junior Jonel Boileau, on a fast break, blasted a shot from the top of the circle that was deflected high off a BU stick and in over Eimbcke’s head.
The first half came to a close with the score locked at 1-1, but the Terriers broke through again in the 46th minute, with another goal by Fruitema off of a penalty corner, again assisted by Schieb. BU padded its lead three minutes later, when freshman forward Amanda Cassera scored off a rebound, bringing the final score to 3-1.
“I’m really happy both games, back-to-back games we’ve had dominant performances in the second half,” Starr said. “They’re listening to what we’re talking about. They’re giving suggestions so we were really trying to make some halftime adjustments, and we’re coming out and playing really well in the second half, so I’m really pleased to see that.
“We’re a young team,” Starr continued. “I really believe the goals are going to come as we mature as a team … We’ve just got to be patient and we [have to] stay positive, and I think this team is really doing a great job doing that.”