Following this past weekend’s Saturday and Sunday doubleheader against American University and Hofstra University, the No. 20 Boston University field hockey team may have finally shaken off the scoring woes that have plagued them all season long.
The Terriers (6-3, 1-1 Patriot League) opened up the weekend with the underrated Eagles (6-3, 2-0 Patriot League), as both teams eyed a crucial conference win. BU controlled possession the entire 70 minutes, letting loose a season-high 22 shots, including 17 in the second half, in a heartbreaking 1-0 overtime defeat.
“It’s a loss, but I feel in every other aspect we played a really tremendous hockey game,” said BU coach Sally Starr. “We, particularly in the second half, absolutely dominated, and we had so many scoring opportunities. Really we have to look at the tape, figure out where we’re not scoring, why we’re not scoring. Is it just great goaltending? Is it not getting lucky? We’re not in the right spots that we’re not finishing off these shots.
“We got corners, we got shots, we just didn’t get the goals today.”
The Terriers are no strangers to missed opportunities, having outshot opponents 135-97 this season, and having taken 61 corners to opponents’ 46. These lopsided numbers are uncharacteristic of a team with a 6-3 record or a team with six games having been decided by one goal.
Despite BU’s apparent dominance on the offensive end, it maintains a flaw that has prevented them from blowing up the scoreboard: they are not generating quality opportunities. This season, the Terriers have a .563 shot-on-goal percentage to their opponents’ .598, revealing the lack of shooting accuracy and discretion that has resulted in so many close calls and squandered victories. Going into the game against Hofstra (4-7), Starr understood that increasing the quality of scoring chances had to be a point of emphasis.
“We really talked a lot about that this morning in our pregame meeting,” Starr said. “And I’m really happy to see a striker score a goal. We actually had a striker film session before the game today just to really show some things that we need to do better in the goalmouth area.
“Positioning by our strikers was one thing [we found on the tape]. What I liked yesterday was that we got a lot of shots off and we really attacked on the corners. I think today we just wanted to simplify our corners a little bit and not try anything too fancy.”
BU’s style of play changed dramatically in the 3-1 victory over the Pride Sunday. Instead of settling for the shots the Hofstra defense gave them, the Terrier strikers attacked the cage aggressively, creating open shots near the goalmouth. The unit’s efforts paid off in the 49th minute, when freshman forward Amanda Cassera rocketed a laser into the back of the cage, the first goal by a BU forward since the season debut against Ohio University.
“I think that’s going to become a strength as we move through the season,” Starr said. “Getting our strikers in goal-scoring spots, having the discipline to be where you need to be, when you need to be there.”
With sophomore backer Rachel Coll, the Terriers’ premier inserter, still out with an ankle injury, the young front line must continue to perform in order to maintain the offensive success.
“We’re still without [Coll], and I think that’s affecting our attack penalty corner,” Starr said. “She’s normally our inserter. She has a really fast insert, so we’re able to get shots off a little bit quicker.”
Sunday’s offensive explosion certainly provides optimism for the remainder of the Terriers’ season, as the inexperienced team continues to mature. It is imperative they sustain the momentum, however, as they resume conference play on the road Friday at College of the Holy Cross.
After watching the team make huge strides over the weekend, Starr is confident that her team will be up for the challenges ahead.
“I really believe the goals are gonna come as we mature as a team,” Starr said. “We’re starting three young strikers right now, and a young midfield. It’s going to come, and we just need to be patient, we’ve got to stay positive and I really think this team is doing a great job doing that.”