The Boston University women’s lacrosse team extended its season Tuesday with a 14-9 win over Lehigh University in the Patriot League quarterfinal round thanks in large part to the play of senior goalkeeper Christina Sheridan.
For most of this season, the Terriers (8-9, 5-3 Patriot League) have worked with a rotation between Sheridan and freshman goalie Caroline Meegan. Both have been solid and eager to prove themselves to BU coach Liz Robertshaw.
“They’re battling each and every day for the starting spot,” Robertshaw said. “They both go into practice with a lot of determination and make some impressive saves. This competition is making the attack better and it’s making the defense better.
“We make our decisions based upon how they perform in practice Them pushing each other has led to the best two-player goaltending we’ve had here in a long time.”
Meegan has started 12 of the Terriers’ 17 games this season, notching five wins in her rookie campaign. The Timonium, Md., native maintains a .418 save percentage, good for sixth in the Patriot League.
One of the strongest points of Meegan’s game, however, is her ability to make tough saves, especially off of free-position chances. She ranks third in the Patriot League in saves per game with a 6.71 average, contributing to BU’s modest opponent free-position conversion rate of 41 percent.
Prior to last Saturday’s home contest versus Bucknell University, Meegan had played the majority of game minutes in the Terriers’ previous two tilts. But on Senior Day, Sheridan was not going to be denied the start in what could have possibly been her final game at the Nickerson Field.
Sheridan faced 19 shots, saving four of them in the 11-9 victory. With less than nine minutes to go, Sheridan completely locked down the Bison (4-12, 2-6 Patriot League) attack, holding them scoreless for the duration of the game. Her save with 42 seconds remaining clinched the finale for BU in front of the home crowd.
With this start and win under her belt, Sheridan went into Tuesday’s Patriot League Tournament matchup against the Mountain Hawks (7-9, 4-4 Patriot League) with confidence. Once again, she played the full 60 minutes, notching her third win of the season.
Going up against some of the top scoring talent in the conference in junior Carli Sukonik and freshman Allison LaBeau, Sheridan proved to be up to the challenge. Sukonik, a two-goal per game scorer, was held to just one goal on four shots, including a missed free-position chance. Meanwhile LaBeau, Lehigh’s leading scorer with 38 points, was also corralled by Sheridan for just one goal.
The Maryland native finished up a herculean effort with seven saves on 23 shots, while only allowing nine goals. However, the key for Sheridan throughout the contest was her ability to limit the Mountain Hawks’ free-position opportunities, as she stonewalled them five times en route to a 38 percent conversion rate.
“We felt comfortable with her presence in cage today,” Robertshaw said. “She really played a lockdown style of defense against a tough offense. Her clearing is key for us, because she can clear the ball nearly 30 or 40 yards.”
With the win over the Mountain Hawks, the Terriers advance to the Patriot League Tournament semifinal to face off with the U.S. Naval Academy in Maryland. One of the Midshipmen’s (14-2, 6-2 Patriot League) two losses this season came at the hands of the Terriers onMarch 22, in a 9-8 nail-biter.
When asked who would be playing in net for BU, Robertshaw declined to comment, emphasizing that she and her fellow coaches would make the decision closer to game time. But regardless of which Terrier starts in goal, she will have to prepare herself for a potent Navy attack.
“They’re a fast team and they’re aggressive on the cage,” Robertshaw said. “We just need to keep our game plan in mind and stick to it.”