A key facet of the Boston University men’s lacrosse team’s first season has been the stellar play of freshman goalkeeper Christian Carson-Banister.
Although Carson-Banister is sixth in the Patriot League with a .538 save percentage, the Dallas native has made 105 saves through nine games for the Terriers (1-8, 1-4 Patriot League), which equals about 11.67 per game, a conference-leading number. He posted 12 saves last time out against the U.S. Naval Academy and has registered six double-digit save outings so far in his freshman campaign.
“He’s doing a great job,” said BU coach Ryan Polley. “He’s seeing the ball very well and he’s saving it, and when we do make mistakes defensively, he bails us out a bunch, and he’s playing at a very high level. He’s been [an] individual that has played all season at a very high, consistent level. He’s been terrific.”
Middle quarter struggles
In just about every game it has played, BU has proven its capability in competing with its opponents. The Terriers have stayed close with top teams like No. 16 Colgate University and Lehigh University, falling by just a few goals in both contests.
“I think we’re competing very well,” Polley said. “We’re playing in one of the toughest conferences out there, a very good conference. We have [three] teams ranked in the top-20 and a couple under consideration, and every week our guys prepare, and they’re learning how to play at this high level and we play our hearts out for 60 minutes so I’m pleased with that.”
As their record indicates, however, the Terriers have had trouble coming out the other side of their games with the win. Part of the problem is the fact that BU is outscored by a 31-goal margin in the second and third quarters of its games, posting scoring margins of minus-20 in the second quarter and minus-11 in the third quarter, respectively.
Polley said he does not believe the goal differentials are the result of the team letting up, but rather a consequence of a young group that tends to turn the ball over.
“We’re playing some good teams,” Polley said of the defensive issues. “Certainly the rate at which we turn the ball over is something that hurts us. Our turnovers lead to more opportunities for the offense and the more chances you give them, the more they start to figure out what you’re doing offensively and defensively and create good chances. It’s just a matter of time until they break through and score.
“I just think our guys make mistakes. They make youthful mistakes and these good teams are capitalizing on them.”
Freshman attack Pat Myers is still out due to injury, and in his absence, Polley and his coaching staff have had to look elsewhere for offensive power. Redshirt freshman attack Sam Tenney and freshman midfielder Cal Dearth continue to make enormous contributions as the team’s new offensive catalysts.
In last Saturday’s matchup against the Navy (4-5, 3-3 Patriot League), Tenney recorded three goals for his second hat trick of the year. His first came against Lafayette College during the team’s first victory in which he tallied four goals. Tenney is now the second Terrier to reach the double-digit mark in goals with 10 and is also second on the team in shooting percentage with a .357 success rate.
“He has a knack for scoring,” Polley said of Tenney. “He has a very good shot, and he’s pretty creative with his different release points.
“We talked to [Tenney] when we decided he was going to be the one who was going to replace Pat and get his significant minutes. We talked to him about what we needed him to do as far as handling the ball in Pat’s absence and he’s done a very good job in handling the ball and making good decisions and doing what we knew he could do, and that’s put the ball in the back of the net.”
Dearth’s role, however, differs from Tenney’s. Toward the beginning of the season, the midfielder was relied on more for his defense than his offense. Now, with Patriot League Rookie of the Week under his belt, he has taken on a larger offensive role and assumed more responsibility on the field, scoring some goals of his own as well as moving the ball around to create plays for his teammates.
He has seven assists on the year and has notched six goals, good for a total of 13 points, which puts him third on the team right behind Myers and freshman attack Adam Schaal.
“Cal’s just an overall great player,” Polley said. “When Pat went down, we were really struggling to score so we knew we needed to step it up.
“He’s just doing a great job and [he’s] someone we think we can build our program around.”