In a week in which the Boston University women’s lacrosse team earned its first win of the season, freshman goalkeeper Caroline Meegan shone for the Terriers.
Facing conference opponent American University on March 8, the Terrier (1-5, 1-0 Patriot League) goalkeeper was vital in the 12-11 triumph. She made six saves, including a crucial one as time expired, to clinch the BU win.
“She’s really stepped up for us this year,” said BU coach Liz Robertshaw. “She’s getting better every game, and against American she came up big.”
In an 11-8 loss against No. 14 Johns Hopkins University on Thursday, Meegan stood strong in the face of a potent offensive attack. The Timonium, Md., native made six saves on 28 shots. Though the Blue Jays (9-0) eventually prevailed, Meegan gave BU a fighting chance throughout the contest.
Meegan earned Patriot League Rookie of the Week honors for her two-game performance, the conference announced March 10.
“Leading a defensive unit full of seniors can be extremely difficult, especially for a freshman,” Robertshaw said. “But she’s done an amazing job, and she’s stepped up to a major challenge.”
Meegan is not the only underclassman exceeding expectations this season. Sophomore midfielders Jill Horka and Sofia Robins as well as classmate attack Mallory Collins have emerged this season for the Terriers.
These underclassmen have played in all six games this season, accumulating 19 starts among them.
“This year’s sophomore class is strong,” Robertshaw said. “They get ground balls, win draw controls, cause turnovers and really play excellent all-around games.”
Collins is the leading scorer for BU this season with nine points, all of them goals. The Boston native has scored in every game this season, including a four-goal bonanza against No. 1 University of North Carolina.
Horka and Robins have also produced stellar offensive outputs. Robins is 2-for-2 on free position shots and converts 66 percent of her shots, good for third on the squad. Meanwhile Horka has scored three goals in the last two games, including two off the bench in the victory over the Eagles (2-6, 0-2 Patriot League).
“[The sophomores] bring an energy to the field that our team needs,” Robertshaw said. “Their ability and confidence really takes the pressure off the seniors.”
Defensively, the Terriers have struggled this season against opposing clears. BU gives up over 93 percent of opposing clear attempts, a number that resulted in four straight losses to begin the season. Over the past two games alone, Johns Hopkins and American combined to go 16-for-17 against the Terriers.
“We’ve had to change a lot of things due to personnel,” Robertshaw said. “The clear is something we know we have to improve on. Since the beginning of the season, we’ve seen some great improvement, but we’ve still got a ways to go.”
Meanwhile BU has converted over 25 percent less clears than its opponents, at a 67 percent rate. After converting a measly 59 percent of clear attempts for the first four games of the season, however, the Terriers have begun to find success. In its last two games, BU has gone 22-for-25 on clear attempts, including 9-for-9 against American.
“This is an area we are constantly addressing and gaining confidence in each and every day of practice,” Robertshaw said. “We continuously make adjustments to our schemes so that we can produce more successful clear attempts.”
Upcoming conference schedule
As the nonconference schedule winds down for the Terriers, they can take lessons learned against the nation’s best and apply them in the Patriot League.
Four of BU’s first six games pitted it against ranked teams, including two against top five opponents No. 3 University of Maryland and North Carolina (9-0). After losing by 10 goals apiece in these first two games, the Terriers lost by a combined margin of six versus No.10/11 University of Massachusetts–Amherst and Johns Hopkins.
“The beginning of the season was tough for us,” Robertshaw said. “But it also showed us where we need to improve, and now we can bring those improvements to these next few games.”
After playing the majority of its nonconference schedule already, three of BU’s next four matchups come against conference opponents. The Terriers will also enjoy their first game in Nickerson Field Wednesday against the College of the Holy Cross.
“This is an important stretch for us now,” Robertshaw said. “We have to do the little things in order to succeed in this conference, or else we’ll have a tough time.”