With nine freshman on the roster, it seemed unlikely that head coach Sally Starr and the Boston University field hockey team would go further in postseason play than they did last season.
In 2016, the senior-laden Terriers lost only one regular season in conference game and secured the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament — only to be beat by American University in the Patriot League championship.
This season, the Terriers (14-8, 6-0 Patriot League) once again performed to Starr’s high standards.
“In every measure it was a successful year,” Starr said. “This team just got better and better, worked hard and finished with an outstanding November.”
A 2017 Patriot League Tournament win and a victory in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament served as a testament to their hard work and success this season.
Starr said the departing senior class — Allie Renzi, Kali Shumock, Grace Boston and Jordyn Beesmer — were instrumental parts of leading the youthful squad.
“This senior class really helped a young team with nine freshman coming in,” Starr said.
The Terriers began the season on a four-game winning streak, then faltered in five of the following seven games, including losses to No. 1 University of Connecticut and No. 2 Duke University.
After the Duke (17-4) loss, the Terriers regrouped and won their most important game of the regular season slate at home against American (13-6, 5-1 Patriot League). BU ended up coming out victorious, 2-1, in what served as the deciding game for where the Patriot League Championship would be held.
“American was the preseason pick to finish first in the conference and for us to beat them in the regular season was huge,” Starr said. “It’s those games against the Dukes, Connecticuts, Princetons and BCs that really help us to be successful come November.”
The Terriers closed out the regular season winning four of six games. BU captured the regular season Patriot League title before ousting the College of the Holy Cross and passing by Bucknell University enroute to their third Patriot League title since joining the conference in 2013.
The Terriers then handed Fairfield University a 5-0 loss in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to the undefeated UConn (21-0) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Freshman Ailsa Connolly took the Patriot League by storm, leading the Terriers with 11 goals. Newcomers Miya Denison, Petra Hall, Millie Baker and Kathryn Scheerer also found substantial success in their freshman campaigns.
Denison scored six goals with one assist for the season, and she scored the Terrier’s lone goal in their regular season matchup against UConn and added a goal in the NCAA opening round victory over Fairfield (9-12).
Over the season, Hall added five goals and four assists, while Scheerer was the only freshman to start every game. Baker split the season in goal with junior Kathleen Keegan, except when Baker was in the net for the entirety of the Terriers’ game against Duke.
“This is probably one of the deepest team in many, many years,” Starr said. “You can see it by the number of players that sustained a really high level of play.”
Junior Maika Akroyd scored the first four goals of her career after moving to the midfield. Classmates Ally Hammel and Allie Doggett were unanimously named to the All-Patriot League First Team along with senior Shumock. Connolly, along with sophomore Kiley Gallagher were named to the All-Patriot League Second Team.
Shumock will participate in the NFHCA Division 1 Senior Game held in Louisville, Kentucky at the site of the 2017 NCAA Division 1 Field Hockey Championship.
Hammel was also awarded the 2017 Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year trophy for anchoring a backstop that allowed just five goals in conference play.
“Our defense both individually and as a team was outstanding this year,” Starr said.
With a plethora of talent returning, Starr said she’s looking toward the spring to work on the next season and hopes to continue the team’s success.
“What we need to do is commit ourselves to improve our attack, a lot of games we got the ball in our attacking third, but we didn’t finish as well as we could have. That will be a point of emphasis this spring,” Starr said. “We have the potential to be very good again.”