For its final home game and contest of the regular season, the Boston University field hockey team will host Lafayette College Saturday afternoon at New Balance Field.
“Lafayette is the defending Patriot League Champions,” said BU coach Sally Starr. “It’s our last conference game, last regular-season game, senior game … they’re a good team, they’re a quality team, and we’re definitely looking forward to a good contest.”
The Leopards (6-10, 3-2 Patriot League), like BU, have recently clinched a spot in the Patriot League conference tournament. The Terriers are sitting pretty with the No. 2 seed while Lafayette has claimed the fourth and final spot after a win over Colgate University last Saturday.
Lafayette also brings the most recent Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week with them to Boston in junior Kelsey Mead, who tallied a goal and three assists in two games last weekend for the Leopards. Mead has four goals and five assists on the season and is tied with backer Brittany Blass for the team lead in points, as both have recorded 13 points this season.
Junior Jessica Deutsch has been the Leopards’ go-to presence in the cage this season, playing in all 16 of Lafayette’s games thus far and sporting a 2.07 goals-against average and a .620 save percentage.
The Leopards have had their share of issues finding the back of the net this year, outshooting their foes 178 to 156, but getting outscored by a 35 to 29 margin.
Coming off an incredibly successful campaign in 2012 that flaunted an impressive 17-3 record and the top seed in the Patriot League Tournament, Lafayette’s rough numbers this year have left something to be desired. The Leopards finished last year ranked No. 13 in the nation and ended their regular season with 13 straight wins and five consecutive shutouts.
This season, the Leopards have had some trouble with a pair of three-game skids and dropped two out of their first three in-conference tilts.
“I’m not really that familiar with the program, but the fact that they were able to finish well in the Patriot League and have a respectable record in the Patriot League, and I know they play a pretty good out of conference schedule … I don’t think we’ve ever played this team before and we definitely need to make sure that we’re ready for an exciting hockey game,” Starr said.
Despite their struggles, the Leopards will look to finish their season strong against the Terriers and make a good case for themselves in the coming tournament.
Comparatively, BU has boasted much better goalkeeping this season, as time and time again the Terriers turn to junior Valentina Cerda Eimbcke, who maintains a 1.38 GAA and a .769 save percentage, to man the net.
The Terriers also possess more dynamic players on offense. Freshman forward Amanda Cassera, BU’s team points leader, has eight goals for 16 total points this season. Sophomore midfielder Sofi Laurito is next on the sheet with seven goals and 14 points. Freshman midfielder Hester van der Laan takes third place with 13 points on four goals and five assists, matching Mead’s scoring line to a T.
“It’s a season where our emphasis since the beginning is to get better each practice, each week, each game, and I think that’s something, for the most part, we’ve been really good at,” Starr said of her Terriers. “We’ve done really, really well keeping that as a focus and as an emphasis.
“This week we had an excellent practice [Tuesday], we had a really good practice [Wednesday]. And we’re looking forward to making that next step with our game against Lafayette on Saturday and really finishing the regular season strong and getting ourselves ready for the conference championship.”