On a brisk, clear autumn night, the Boston University men’s lacrosse team gave its school a taste of things to come in its inaugural season, topping the English National Team 11-8 in a scrimmage Wednesday night at Nickerson Field, its first contest at home as a varsity team. A couple of hat tricks, paired with some nifty goalkeeping and defense, aided the Terriers en route to their victory.
“I thought it was a great game,” said BU coach Ryan Polley. “I thought England was a really good opponent and they played hard and … I was very excited that we were able to pull out the win in the end.”
BU fell behind early in the game as England attack Nick Watson opened the scoring in the second minute of play, beating the Terrier defense and freshman goalkeeper Christian Carson-Banister, who would end up allowing four goals through three quarters while posting 12 saves.
Not even five minutes later, freshman attack Adam Schaal evened the score at 1-1 on a goal assisted by freshman attack Brendan Barrett. Schaal would go on to tally two goals and two assists for a total of four points by the time the game was through, tying him with freshman attack Pat Myers for first on the team in points with four on the night.
England took the lead again in the 17th minute, but freshman attack Ryan Johnston scored in the 19th minute to put the Terriers right back in it at 2-2 at the end of the first quarter. Johnston was one of two players to net hat tricks against England, the second being redshirt freshman midfielder Patrick Donnelly.
“Obviously it’s nice to score, especially three, but I’ve got to give all the credit to my teammates,” Johnston said. “We’re starting to find some chemistry as a unit, and it’s really starting to come together. It doesn’t really matter who puts the ball in the net as long as it happens.”
The second quarter was much quieter, as the Terriers took a 3-2 lead into the half thanks to another goal from Johnson.
BU added to its lead in the first minute of the second half when Myers potted his first of the evening, assisted by Schaal. England responded with two goals in five minutes to tie the score, 4-4. Six minutes later, Donnelly ripped a shot past goalkeeper Ben McAllister to help his team regain the lead. Donnelly scored again in the final minute of the third quarter to pad the Terriers’ lead.
Freshman midfielder Cal Dearth scored in the second minute to begin the fourth quarter, and Donnelly would complete his hat trick three minutes later to put BU even further ahead with a score of 8-4.
“The first half was a little slow,” Donnelly said. “We’ve been out here for six weeks with each other, so just getting to go against a different color jersey, kind of figuring out how to calm down and get our legs under us … hopefully come springtime, it doesn’t take us a quarter or two to do that.”
With a comfortable cushion between the Terriers and their opponent, BU let up a little, allowing England to score three easy goals in three minutes and pull within one tally of yet another tie.
Polley called a timeout in the 11th minute of the quarter, after which the Terriers came out roaring, notching three goals in four minutes from Schaal, Myers and Johnston to put the game all but out of reach for the visitors.
“We went up a couple, and they got it to one, and it could have went either way,” Polley said. “They had a nice run, and we called a timeout, talked about how we got to be resilient and respond, and guys came out and popped three straight goals in to go up four and put the game away a little bit. I was very, very happy with that.”
England scored in the 19th minute of the quarter, but the final score held at 11-8, with BU emerging victorious.
“Obviously we’re riding pretty high,” Johnston said. “It’s the first game that this program’s had at the varsity level … We’re all freshmen, we’re still very young. The emotions were very high, but I think we handled them really well.
“I think it was huge for us. This is a really young group, but it’s also a hardworking, blue-collar group, and to get another win, especially the first one on our home, field is just huge, let us know it’s real … especially to end the fall ball season here with a win over a quality team like England is huge for us.”
“It was a great fall,” Polley added. “We kind of accomplished what we wanted to accomplish … We’re trying to build this foundation. We keep talking about that, about guys playing hard and doing the right things and being in the right spots … and we got better, and that’s most important … Guys give their all, and I’m very proud of that.”