Lacrosse, Sports

Men’s lacrosse aims to shake off losing streak against Holy Cross Crusaders

Freshman attack Ryan Hilburn notched his 21st goal of the season Saturday against No. 17 Loyola University Maryland. PHOTO BY ALEXANDRA WIMLEY/DFP FILE PHOTO
Freshman attack Ryan Hilburn notched his 21st goal of the season Saturday against No. 17 Loyola University Maryland. PHOTO BY ALEXANDRA WIMLEY/DFP FILE PHOTO

The Boston University men’s lacrosse team will cap off its three-game home stand when it welcomes the College of the Holy Cross Friday night at Nickerson Field.

Things have not been going well for the Terriers (6-6, 3-4 Patriot League) as of late, as they are currently trying to shake a four-game losing streak. However, they have competed strongly in their last two games despite losing to Harvard University, 9-8, on April 7 and falling to No. 17 Loyola University Maryland, 8-6, on Saturday.

In light of that, BU coach Ryan Polley pointed out that his squad went up against some strong competition and still played well enough to win.

“I think we’ve played some really good teams,” Polley said. “We played three top 20 teams and Harvard, who is the defending Ivy League champion. The last two games I thought we played well enough to win both, but unfortunately Loyola [7-6, 5-2 Patriot League] and Harvard [6-6] just made a couple more plays than us.

“So at the end of the day, I felt good about the way we played. We just didn’t shoot the ball well enough. I felt good about how when we were down 5-1 [against Loyola], we responded and didn’t give up and stayed with our game plan and had a chance to win the game.”

It is no secret that the Terriers have struggled putting the ball in the net as of late. During their losing streak, BU has scored only seven goals per game. In the four games previous to that, which were all wins, the Terriers scored 15.25 goals per game. This scoring drought has dropped BU to third in the Patriot League in goals per game at 11.36.

Another aspect of the game that is dragging the Terriers down are turnovers, as BU averages about 15.91 per game, which is a conference worst. Because of this, Polley said he is focusing more on taking care of the ball in practice.

“Certainly our stickwork has been a major focus,” he said. “We have to make sure that we can get the ball up the field and clear it, and certainly we are going to have to be able to make a couple of quick passes against Holy Cross.

Although Holy Cross (5-7, 2-5 Patriot League) is currently on a three-game losing streak, the Crusaders will be a tough opponent for the Terriers to take down. The Crusaders score on 30.5 percent of their shots, which is good for third in the conference.

Holy Cross also has a balanced offensive attack, as 10 players have scored at least three goals. Without having one Holy Cross player to focus on when on defense, the Terriers will have to play strong defense all around.

“I think that breaking their ten-man ride on defense will be key,” Polley said. “They’re going to try and press often, so it’s going to be very crucial to us to clear the ball and get the ball from our defense to our offense when we can.

“I think the faceoff battle is going to be an important spot. If we can continue to face-off well and have the ball, I feel good that our offense is going to be able to take advantage of that and cash in,” he said.

As important as the defense-to-offense transition and faceoff battle will be on Friday, Polley added that his team’s mental approach is going to be just as important.

“Also, I think our energy level is always a real important thing,” he said. “Just playing loose is probably going to be the most important thing. It’s basically a playoff game, and on Friday night at home, so it’s going to be an emotional day. We’re going to have to keep that in check and perform at a real high level.”

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