Transition defense hinders men’s lacrosse

In its first home game back from a two-game road swing, the Boston University men’s lacrosse team fell victim to turnovers and issues with transition defense, losing to the U. S. Naval Academy at Nickerson Field on Saturday afternoon, 13-7 .

The Terriers (1-8, 1-4 Patriot League) battled with the Midshipmen (4-5, 3-3 Patriot League) and kept themselves in the game for the majority of the tilt, but turnovers and transition problems eventually did the home team in.

BU ended the first quarter of the game in a 2-2 knot with Navy, but the second quarter was where Navy began to pull away.

The “settled defense,” according to BU coach Ryan Polley, was not the problem for BU on Saturday. As a whole, the defense managed to keep Navy at bay for much of the tilt, forcing the Midshipmen to five 30-second clock warnings, two in the first quarter and three in the fourth.

BU, however, allowed Navy to pot four unanswered goals in the second, three of which were the direct result of a turnover, and take a 7-3 lead into the half. In total, seven of Navy’s 13 goals were off a turnover immediately into transition.

The problem in the contest had more to do with transition goals that stemmed from turnovers by the Terriers, rather than defensive lapses. A mistake in the attack area would result in a turnover and a fast break down the field for the Midshipmen, while BU was stuck trying to recover.

“We were a little sloppy today,” Polley said. “We failed a bunch of clears, turned the ball over and created some transition for them … We gave them two runs because we turned it over, and they took advantage of that.”

The Terriers average 19 turnovers a game, the most in the Patriot League, while their opponents give up 14.67 per contest. The turnover issue was at the forefront again this Saturday.

“Sometimes it’s just a lack of focus,” Polley said of the team’s turnover tendency. “We try to get our defensive personnel on the field and, potentially, they might be trying to get off when they should stay. Today they just made a couple mental mistakes that really gave Navy some opportunities, and they took advantage of it, to their credit.”

Another part of the problem, Polley said, is the midfielders have a penchant to play further up the field on offense. When a turnover occurs, all that is left on the other end of the field is the defense and the goalkeeper. Twelve of the team’s 19 turnovers against the Midshipmen came from midfielders.

“[The transition midfield today was] average at best,” Polley said. “I really think we didn’t do a great job of matching up in transition, and Navy is strong in the transition game and they hurt us.

“[The midfielders] have got to take a little bit more pride in their defense. They’re offensive midis by name, but they’re midis, and they’ve got to play two ways.”

Freshman goalkeeper Christian Carson-Banister, who registered 12 saves on the day, praised BU’s effort up-and-down the field and added that fixing lot of the team’s issues will come down to executing better.

“We come out really hot, we start to execute, take care of the little things, we’re in it, and then I think we start losing a little bit of those little things as the game goes on, and then we reestablish ourselves,” Carson-Banister said. “Our goal is to be consistent and work and play a consistent game. I think as we’ve gone through the year, our consistency has gotten better. However, it’s not where it needs to be at to win games.”

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