The Boston University women’s lacrosse team continued its unblemished Patriot League play with a 9-8 road victory over Lafayette College Saturday afternoon.
The Terriers (5-5, 4-0 Patriot League) came into the contest red hot, having won four straight games. In those four victories, BU played stifling defense, holding opponents to an average of 7.5 goals per game.
While BU entered Saturday’s game with momentum on their side, Lafayette (4-8, 0-5 Patriot League) embodied the other end of the spectrum, having lost five of its previous six matchups, including all five of its Patriot League contests. The only flicker of light for the Leopards was their most recent game versus Central Connecticut State University, a 12-7 win on the road.
BU started out strong offensively, dropping five goals in the first 16 minutes of play. Senior midfielder Becca Church and sophomore midfielder Jill Horka each scored two goals apiece during this flurry, while sophomore attack and leading scorer Mallory Collins assisted on two goals as well.
“[Church and Horka] were fantastic,” said BU coach Liz Robertshaw. “They were completely fearless on both sides of the ball. They accounted for eight of our nine goals and they played great one-on-one defense at the same time.
“They were playing the kind of games that I wish all of our players could play every single time out on the field.”
In an unexpected shift, however, the Leopards came roaring back, posting seven of the next eight goals in the game. Midfielders Laura Kleiber and Ana White, Lafayette’s top two scorers at 36 points apiece, both put two balls into the back of the net during this span. Following the final goal from Kleiber with just over 26 minutes remaining in the game, the Leopards took an 8-6 lead.
“We gave up a few soft goals in the first half, and I think we got frustrated,” Robertshaw said. “We were really letting the refs get in our heads. So at the half I told them to just settle down and play our game. We knew that we needed to be more aggressive on cage, even if we didn’t play that way to start the half.”
Robertshaw’s team remained calm and collected, refusing to panic and let the game escape them. It took 11 minutes, but Church came up big once again, scoring two goals in a little more than a minute to knot the game at eight with 13:44 remaining. Finally, after assisting on Church’s third goal of the day, Horka netted her 12th goal of the season and her fourth of the game to give BU its first lead since the 23-second mark of the first half.
The Terriers buckled down defensively to end the game, holding the Leopards scoreless for the last 12:38 to preserve the 9-8 win.
Once again, the Terriers’ goalkeeping came up big down the stretch as freshman Caroline Meegan and senior Christina Sheridan combined to limit the Leopards to just two free-position conversions out of nine. Meegan started the game, logging 33 minutes of game action and five saves, while Sheridan played the role of closer. Sheridan made three crucial saves in the final minutes, including a stop on a free-position chance for Lafayette with 37 seconds remaining in the game.
“I changed goaltenders because Sheridan looked good in warm-ups, not because Caroline was playing badly,” Robertshaw said. “It’s been a challenge for Christina after getting injured in the first game, but she’s done a great job of remaining positive.
“I promised her she would be a vital part of the team after she got hurt, and she’s really embraced her leadership role. She wants to see this team succeed as much as anyone, and it’s apparent.”
Saturday’s victory marks the first comeback win of the season for the Terriers, whose second half play has often left much to be desired this season. After rallying on the road, however, BU will remain confident in its ability to play from behind going forward.
“[The team doesn’t] get rattled,” Robertshaw said. “I think it’s easier for us to lose focus when we get too far ahead. We’re extremely comfortable playing from two goals behind or two goals ahead.”