Coming off of a two-game road trip, the Boston University men’s lacrosse team will return to Nickerson Field when it takes on the U.S. Naval Academy Saturday afternoon.
On the first game of the trip at Lafayette College March 15, the Terriers (1-7, 1-3 Patriot League) defeated the Leopards (1-6, 1-4 Patriot League) 12-7 for the program’s first-ever victory. Redshirt freshman attack Sam Tenney led the team with four goals in the game. Freshman attack Cal Dearth was moved to the first line in freshman attack Pat Myers’ absence and set a program record with six points.
Against Bucknell University one week later, the Terriers were not as fortunate, falling to the Bison (5-4, 3-2 Patriot League) 7-3. BU got on the board early with a goal from Craig Zebrowski just 62 seconds into the contest and led 3-2 midway through the second quarter, but thanks to an illegal stick penalty on freshman midfielder Sam Talkow, the Bison captured momentum and scored four unanswered goals to end the half. In the game’s waning minutes when freshman goalkeeper Tyler Zickel left the frame of the goal, Bucknell took advantage of the open-net opportunity.
The game was not devoid of positives for the Terriers, as Talkow went a perfect 12-for-12 from the faceoff X and freshman goalkeeper Christian Carson-Banister made nine saves. BU’s defense also allowed its fewest goals against of the season.
“Our guys are just getting comfortable back there,” Polley said about the improved play of the defense.
For his efforts, Talkow was named the Patriot League Rookie of the Week, joining Dearth and Johnston as the third consecutive Terrier to win the award.
The Midshipmen (3-5, 2-3 Patriot League) will be looking to turn things around against the Terriers as they are in the midst of a three-game losing streak. Navy’s latest defeat was a 10-7 home loss to Colgate University, a team that beat BU by a score of 7-5 on Feb. 22.
Navy’s offense, led by attack Sam Jones, is one of the most prolific in the Patriot League. For his part, Jones ranks second in the league in assists and is third in points. Attack T.J. Hanzsche is also tied for third in goals per game (2.12). In the loss to the Raiders (7-2, 3-1 Patriot League), seven different Midshipmen notched goals.
To combat this, BU will have to improve its own offensive efficiency. Right now, the Terriers are last in the league in shot percentage.
“We’re gonna try a couple new combinations and more importantly we’re gonna focus on maintaining possession and making better decisions,” Polley said. “Teams haven’t been particularly sliding to us that often. They’ve been challenging us to win our 1-on-1 battles so we’ve been working on that with the attack and midfield. We’ve been working on our 1-on-1 dodging and trying to create opportunities from that.”
Winning the faceoff battle will also be crucial in this contest. Midfielder Brady Dove and Talkow rank first and second in the league, respectively, in ground balls per game. Talkow is first in the league in faceoff percentage while Dove ranks fourth.
“I think [winning the faceoff battle] is going to be very crucial,” Polley said. “Sam [Talkow] actually knows [Dove] and has faced him in the past at some other clinics and things like that so I’m curious to see that. They’re both freshman and they’re both having great years. Possession is gonna be a really important part of this game. We’ve struggled a little bit to score so every possession we get is going to be helpful.”
While faceoffs have been a strong suit for the Terriers, Polley said he wants his team to improve with ground balls.
“Our goal this weekend is gonna be to focus on ground balls,” Polley said. “On the season, we’re minus-37 and if you remove the faceoffs, where we are plus-18 at the faceoff X, we’re really minus-55 on the year and that’s something we know we have to improve upon and something that leads to our low output offensively… We’re really focused in on trying to create extra possessions for our offense. We want to give our offense as many opportunities as we can to score.”
Overall, Polley said he hopes his team will play a consistent and complete game against the Midshipmen.
“We’re going to try and put it all together this weekend.”