With last weekend’s tilt against No. 1 Loyola University-Maryland behind them, the Boston University men’s lacrosse team will wrap up its conference schedule in Worcester Saturday when it faces off with The College of the Holy Cross.
“It’s been great,” said BU coach Ryan Polley of the team’s first year in the conference. “We were unsure of what the league would hold, and there are great coaches and great teams. Every week presented a different challenge. We certainly represented ourselves very well and how competitive we were.”
Both the Terriers (1–11, 1–6 Patriot League) and the Crusaders (3–10, 1–6 Patriot League) defeated Lafayette College for each team’s sole Patriot League victory. However, Holy Cross posted two other non-conference wins during the course of the season. Those victories came against the University of Richmond and the University of Hartford.
Like BU, its record doesn’t tell the whole story for Holy Cross. The Crusaders are a competitive team, which they showed in their last contest on March 8 — an 11–9 loss against No. 23 Colgate University.
“I think it’s going to be a really competitive game,” Polley said. “They’re [the Crusaders] really similar to us in a lot of different statistics. They turn the ball over at probably a little higher clip than they want to, and they’re not a great clearing team, kind of like us.”
These programs certainly differ on the offensive end, however, as the Crusaders have a sizeable advantage, scoring about 8.92 goals per game to the Terriers’ 6.75. It goes without saying that Holy Cross has had an easier time up front than BU, who has scored seven or fewer goals in nine of 12 games this year. The Crusaders have posted at least nine goals in all but four games.
Much of their success has come from a productive front line composed of attacks Sean Wilkinson, Clay Haarmann and Kevin Lux, as well as midfielder Terry McKenna, all of who have registered at least 23 points thus far.
McKenna leads the team with 24 goals, which puts her in sixth in the conference for goals per game at 1.85. Teammate Wilkinson has a team-high 33 points on the season, placing him at 10th in the conference with an average of 2.54 points per game. Wilkinson also ranks sixth in the Patriot League in assists per game at 1.23.
The quartet has combined for 74 goals, 37 assists and 111 points. To put this in perspective, BU’s top four scorers — redshirt freshman attack Sam Tenney, freshman attack Ryan Johnston, freshman midfielder Cal Dearth and freshman attack Adam Schaal — have a collective 71 points on 47 goals and 24 assists.
“Their top six are some really talented players, and they’re extremely balanced,” Polley said. “They have a couple of really good attacks that have quite a few points on the season. Then their middies can score as well, so they definitely present a challenge for us just based on their depth.
“[We] can’t really key on just one guy, so we’re just working all week on making sure that we play solid defense.”
One category where BU has the upper hand is goaltending. The Crusaders are dead last in the conference with a .434 save percentage, and while the Terriers’ is not much better at a modest .517 percent, they will still have the edge with the return of freshman goalkeeper Christian Carson-Banister, who ranks 11th in the nation in saves per game with 11.20.
The Terriers are also better on the defensive end, allowing a mere 10.84 goals per game to Holy Cross’ 13.50. If BU is able to keep the Crusaders on the outside and play “solid defense,” like Polley said, they have a real chance of coming away with the win.
“They definitely present a real big challenge,” Polley said. “We need to play well, and I think if we play well, we’ll give ourselves an opportunity to win the game.”