Looking back as the season hits the halfway point for the No. 20 Boston University field hockey team, the team’s success can largely be attributed to the veteran presence of captain and senior backer Ysi Schieb. She has started all nine games for the Terriers and is one of only three senior starters for BU.
Schieb’s experience on the team is emphasized by her savvy play on the field. The anchor of the Terriers’ (6-3, 1-1 Patriot League) backline, Schieb leads a unit that has allowed only 11 goals in its nine games. She does not solely provide defensive stability, though. The BU offense runs through her capable stick from the first minute to the 70th. From the backline, Schieb’s crisp, quick passes allow the Terrier midfielders and forwards to spread out the opposing defense and attack the goalmouth.
Perhaps the most underrated aspect of Schieb’s game, however, is her ability to set up the BU attack penalty corner. Schieb is the primary target of the Terrier penalty insert, which has resulted in a team-leading five assists, including two in Sunday’s 3-1 win over Hofstra University.
On a squad that starts three freshman forwards, Schieb is doing all that she can from the back to pace the offense. With the team moving into a new conference in this transitional season, the Terrier coaching staff understands the value of Schieb’s leadership.
“I think she’s doing a great job as the senior captain,” said associate head coach Tracey Paul. “[She’s] providing a solid role model for the freshmen. She knows how to play hard and also how to be empathetic to their inexperience in playing the college game.”
The Second Half Provides the Boost for the Terriers
Over the course of the season, BU’s identity as a second-half team has become more and more clear. Since scoring three first-half goals in the opening 5-1 victory against Ohio University, the initial 35 minutes of play have not been kind to the Terriers, who have scored only twice in that time frame since then.
The second half has been a completely different story for the Terriers, however, as they have dominated the period against nearly all opponents the entire season. Not only have they scored nine goals to their opponents’ four in the final 35 minutes this season, they have outshot opponents 74-41 and they have 31 attack penalty corners to opponents’ 22. This consistent second-half explosion has rewarded BU with three key come-from-behind wins — a 2-1 overtime win over the University of Delaware Sept. 2, another 2-1 overtime win against Providence College Sept. 15 and a 2-1 win in regulation against Colgate University.
“I think it’s been quite astonishing how we’ve played in the second half of games,” Paul said. “It speaks volumes about the heart and mindset of the team. I think we’re a very resilient team and we get a feel for the rhythm of the game and come out in the second half with a lot more confidence. I don’t think it’s so much what we change tactically at halftime, I just think it’s a team that has a lot of mental stamina and that desire to get the results they’re looking for.”
Considering the abundance of close games they have already played this season, the Terriers must continue this aggressive second half trend as they head into more Patriot League play.
Terriers Start Road Stretch
As the Terriers look ahead, they are greeted with the sobering reality of leaving New Balance Field for an extended period of time.
Thus far into the season, the Terriers have played in six home contests to only two on the road. In these home games, they have been quite successful, going 4-2 and maintaining a plus-six goal differential, while this number changes drastically to minus-two when playing away. Over the next two weeks, however, they will play four out of the next six contests on the road. Two out of these four games will be against Patriot League opponents, giving BU a huge opportunity to gain crucial ground within the conference.
The Terriers will need to be wary when they go visit the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Conn., Oct. 13. The No. 2 Huskies (9-0) are playing a stellar brand of field hockey right now, and are one of only two teams left in the entire country to preserve an undefeated record. The upset-minded Terriers are capable of playing with UConn, especially if they can bring their recent offensive momentum to the field.
Careful not to look too far ahead, BU is concentrating on picking up an important conference win this Friday at College of the Holy Cross.
“Well to be quite honest, the only game we’re focusing on is Holy Cross on Friday,” Paul said. “We don’t look that far ahead, we go game to game. We try and keep our focus on the present time, and what we can do to position ourselves right now for success on Friday night. So we’re really day-to-day, and we keep very grounded in the present because that’s all we can control.”