After suffering a four-game losing streak, the No. 13 Boston University field hockey team has rejuvenated itself in significant fashion, riding a dominant defensive effort to three consecutive victories.
Sporting a strong goals-against average that is fourth-best in the country at 1.16, the Terriers’ (10-4, 3-1 Patriot League) defensive intensity has been evident over the past three outings, in which they have relinquished just a single goal.
The team’s approach on this side of the field resulted in dominant shutout efforts over Lehigh University and No. 14 Boston College this past weekend, games in which BU allowed seven combined shots.
The Terriers’ fighting spirit on the defensive end was especially evident against the Mountain Hawks (5-10, 2-3 Patriot League) on Saturday, as Lehigh didn’t register a single corner opportunity, or even a shot, until less than 30 seconds remaining in the contest.
“The biggest things have been defensive organization, communication and playing aggressively,” BU head coach Sally Starr said. “We are valuing the ball when we have it, and when we don’t have it, we are working really hard to get it back. All 11 people are defensively playing well together. It’s not just our backs or our goalie.”
Jensen shutting down opponents
While the Terriers’ stifling defensive approach has certainly made life easier for senior goalkeeper Cammy Jensen, her showings of late have shaped BU into a team that more closely resembles its September counterpart — when it started the year 7-0.
Facing a formidable opponent in the Eagles (7-7) on Sunday, Jensen became the first goalkeeper to shut out against the Eagles thus far in 2016, stopping the only two shots she faced on the afternoon. Her lone save in the second half catapulted that contest into overtime, where BU emerged victorious.
“Jensen did not have to make a lot of saves in the Boston College game, but she did have to make some big saves, some quality saves,” Starr said. “They are an ACC school who plays the top programs in the country, so the fact that we are the first school to hold them scoreless is really a testament to her.”
The Escondido, California native cemented her reputation as a lock-down option in net by keeping the Terriers afloat in a near-upset of No. 2 Duke University on Oct. 2, where she recorded nine saves on 12 shots on goal.
The Terriers will continue to rely on Jensen’s efforts to carry them through the stretch run of the regular season.
Offense rising to the challenge
During BU’s recent skid, it only mustered three goals in four games, but its offense has returned to form over the past few weeks.
The Terriers upped the ante in a 2-1 victory over Bucknell University on Oct. 8, firing 13 shots, six of which were on net, and the momentum carried over into their performance against the Mountain Hawks.
With a furious offensive attacking style, the Terriers registered 24 shots on the Lehigh defense, and 12 on net.
Senior forward Amanda Cassera continued to set the tone for BU, scoring the go-ahead goal with just over one minute remaining in the first half before adding to her tally with another score late in the second half.
The two goals increased Cassera’s total to a team-high eight, emphasizing her ability to take the reins of the team’s offensive attack when necessary. BU is 6-0 in games where the Fairfield, New Jersey native scores, and just 4-4 in contests when she’s goalless.
Additionally, the Terriers’ 10 penalty corner chances against Lehigh provided them with an abundance of opportunities to place the ball in the net, which they managed to do in at an impressive rate. The team’s five-goal showing against the Mountain Hawks matched its output from the previous five games combined.
“Valuing possessions, getting the ball to the other side of the field and playing fast [were the offensive keys],” Starr said. “We like to play aggressively and we like to put defenses under pressure. The other thing we did well was getting more quality shots on goal. We are not trying to ‘finesse it’ quite as much.”
The Terriers will look to continue this offensive aggression when they host the College of the Holy Cross on Friday night in the newest installment of the Turnpike Trophy rivalry.