Field Hockey, Sports

No. 14 field hockey bests American, wins second straight Patriot League Championship

Junior forward Sara Martineau got on the board for her third goal of the season Saturday in the Terriers’ Patriot League title match. PHOTO BY MIKE DESOCIO/DFP FILE PHOTO

It was a sight for sore eyes at New Balance Field on Saturday afternoon, as the No. 14 Boston University field hockey team took the Patriot League Championship for the second year in a row.

“It feels amazing,” said BU coach Sally Starr on the 2-1 win. “You work so long and so hard for it, and you know that coming into this game it was going to be a battle. I knew that we’d really have to play an outstanding game to win today and I’m just so proud of the way that our team competed.”

The Terrier (14-6, 6-0 Patriot League) offense went to work early in the first half, grabbing an early penalty corner opportunity just under two minutes into the game.  However, junior fullback Bea Baumberger Altirriba’s shot from the outer circle went wide past the American (12-7, 5-1 Patriot League) net.

Another penalty corner chance came ten minutes later, but once again BU was unable to capitalize.

The Terriers cracked the scoreboard in the 18th minute, thanks to a turnover by the Eagles in their offensive zone. Junior forward Taylor Blood stole the ball and carried it down the middle of the field, passing to junior forward Amanda Cassera, who positioned herself on the right side of American goalkeeper Kate McBeath. Cassera slid the ball across the net to sophomore forward Grace Boston, who tipped the ball in past McBeath, giving the Terriers a 1-0 lead.

BU struck once more in the first half, when McBeath saved senior midfielder Sofi Laurito’s shot from the edge of the circle. Junior forward Sara Martineau grabbed the rebound opportunity, giving the Terriers a 2-0 advantage going into the second half.

The Eagles did not let BU get by unscathed however, amping up their game throughout the second frame and reaping the rewards.

Just 15 minutes into the half, American drew a penalty corner opportunity, but the shot ended up wide in the Terrier zone.

Three minutes later, the Eagles narrowed the Terrier lead by one goal, on a high shot from the edge of the left side of the circle. There was some debate among the referees that the shot came from outside of the circle. Nevertheless, the play was ruled a goal for American forward Natalie Konerth.

The momentum shifted towards the American side after the goal, and Starr called a timeout to regroup her defense.

“I just think we were panicking a bit,” Starr said. “We weren’t making good decisions on the ball and I think we need to get ourselves better organized defensively, and that’s what we did.”

Despite numerous attempts to even the score, the Eagles could not add the equalizer, giving the Terriers the 2-1 victory and the conference title.

Laurito was named Patriot League Tournament Most Valuable Player, in part thanks to the three goals she scored in the semifinal game against Bucknell University.

In addition, four Terriers were named to the Patriot League All-Tournament Team: senior fullback Rachel Coll, Altirriba, junior midfielder Hester van der Laan and Laurito.

“Sofi and Rachel have been outstanding all year,” Starr said. “Rachel came up big for us defensively today, and Sofi obviously had an amazing tournament.”

Despite the hard work from the BU upperclassmen, Starr highlighted the overall effort from the team that brought this year’s success.

“The biggest thing is that it was a team win,” Starr said. “Offensively, defensively, we did a lot of things really well today. I couldn’t be happier with winning that championship and going to the NCAA Tournament another time.”

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