With the first victory of the season in hand, the Boston University women’s lacrosse team will look to continue its winning ways in the Patriot League Wednesday against the College of the Holy Cross.
The Terriers (1-5, 1-0 Patriot League) will play at Nickerson Field for the first time this season following six consecutive road matchups to start off the 2014 campaign.
“We’re certainly excited,” said BU coach Liz Robertshaw about the team’s first home game. “We’re glad we don’t have to travel for once and be stuck in the bus. We definitely feel more comfortable here in our own beds and we’re excited to wear white tomorrow.”
Over Spring Break, BU earned its first win of the season against conference rival American University in a close 12-11 contest. The Terriers then made the short trek up from Washington D.C., to Baltimore to face No. 14 Johns Hopkins University. Although BU gave a valiant effort, the Blue Jays (9-0) rallied late in the second half to preserve an 11-8 victory.
Like the Terriers, the Crusaders (4-5, 2-0 Patriot League) dropped their first four contests of the campaign, including one against No. 9 University of Massachusetts-Amherst, a team BU fell to Feb. 26. Holy Cross has turned its season around after the poor start with a 19-3 drubbing of Stetson University on March 2, which started a run of four wins in five games.
Holy Cross boasts one of the top defenses in the country, having held seven out of its nine opponents to fewer than 10 goals per game. Opposing teams convert a measly 41.5 percent of free-position shot attempts versus the Crusaders. In addition, Holy Cross only allows 74.7 percent of opposing clear attempts, a stark contrast with BU’s 93.4 percent rate.
“The main thing we stressed is that we need to take chances,” Robertshaw said. “Today in practice, we as coaches challenged [the attack] to be more fearless around the net.
“Oftentimes this season we’ve stalled ourselves. We’ve just tried to establish the mindset that everyone should want the ball. And especially we need some more scoring production to help out our defense, because it has struggled so far.”
Offensively, Holy Cross is paced by senior Sara Hennessey. The Winchester native leads the team in goals (21) and points (26), following up her Second Team All-Patriot League season in 2013. Midfielder Laura Ryan and attack Kaitlin Concilio facilitate the offense around Hennessey, as they have tallied a combined 16 assists in nine games for the Crusaders.
“They have some great scorers over there at Holy Cross and they’re gaining confidence with each and every game,” Robertshaw said. “Our defense watched a lot of film today to get ready and we really stressed more communication out there.
“We need to do a better job of limiting 1-on-1 looks and we need to play tighter crease defense. Overall what we’re looking for is really just consistent team defense.”
Senior Sarah Webber has provided stability in net for Holy Cross, starting all nine games so far this season. Webber made a combined 14 saves between the last two contests, just giving up a total of 16 goals in the span. Twice this season the senior has recorded more saves than goals against.
This matchup against the Crusaders begins a stretch in which BU plays seven of its final 10 games versus Patriot League opponents.
Robertshaw said the out-of-conference games early in the campaign provided tests that will help BU transition to the conference portion of the schedule.
“We need to take lessons learned from these tough games at the beginning of the season and move forward,” Robertshaw said. “If we take lessons learned and put them into practice in the games ahead, we’ll achieve the success we’re looking for.
“As coaches, we understand the challenge of being a student-athlete and balancing school and practice. All we look to do is get better each and every day we’re out on the field.”