The 2019-20 academic year was one unlike no other for Boston University athletics and the rest of the NCAA as a whole. The months of August through December made up a trying period for the Terriers, as BU’s men’s and women’s soccer teams and field hockey teams struggled to compete this year because of their inexperience, which sets them up to make strides next season.
BU’s winter sports saw greater success as the men’s basketball team secured its first-ever Patriot League title in March, but their dreams of playing in the NCAA Tournament were cut short as the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancelation of winter sport playoffs and all spring sports.
With all of BU’s season finished, let’s look back at the Terriers’ seasons this year and take a peek into the future.
Last season a plague of injuries fell upon the men’s soccer team, forcing now-retired head coach Neil Roberts to start multiple freshmen every game. The 2019 campaign saw a similar youth with Roberts electing to play freshman midfielder Miles Dycaico and freshman back Griffin Roach for the majority of the season as the Terriers played to a 4-12-1 record.
The Terriers are returning the majority of their roster, but the loss of a Spring season could hinder their chemistry and possibly their physical ability. With Roberts retired, BU has hired Kevin Nylen as its first new soccer coach in 35 years. Unfortunately, Nylen will also be affected by the pandemic as thee players are forced to miss important scrimmage and practice time.
In the year after securing the Patriot League title on Nickerson Field, BU women’s soccer saw nine seniors graduate and replaced them with nine freshmen. The Terriers went through a period of adjustment this season, but the 5-12-2 record does not tell the entire story, as many BU losses only came by one or two goals.
Much like men’s soccer, the women’s team is in a similar situation with the Spring season being canceled. The growth of players will be the biggest factor for the Terriers and could help bring them back to the Patriot League tournament next season.
Last season also saw the BU field hockey team securing the Patriot League title on their home field, but much like women’s soccer, six seniors graduated from that team and left a gap to be filled. The Terriers earned a 6-12 record this season as they had three freshmen play the majority of minutes among the players.
BU has only lost two players from the 2019 team, setting them up for another run at the Patriot League title with another year of experience under their belt. Freshman back Jodie Conolly ranked second for points on the team and should look to improve on that next season.
Behind the efforts of star senior forward Max Mahoney, sophomore guard Walter Whyte and junior guard Javante McCoy, the Terriers secured their first-ever Patriot League title. The Terriers’ triumph came less than 24 hours before the NCAA announced that all sports seasons would be canceled for the rest of the semester due to concerns over the coronavirus, leaving the Terriers as one of few conference champions named across all of division one.
The loss of Mahoney is enormous, but McCoy and Whyte will be returning along with the rest of the team. If junior forward Sukhmail Mathon can fill Mahoney’s void, or if one of the younger players such as freshman Ethan Brittain-Watts can step up, it would not be surprising to see the Terriers as conference champions again in 2021.
One year after falling at home in the Patriot League quarterfinals, the Terriers found themselves ready to play in the Patriot League semi final before their playoffs were canceled. Led by senior forward Nia Irving and junior guard Katie Nelson, the BU women’s basketball team finished with its best-ever Patriot League record and was poised to make a run for the title.
Losing Irving could bog down the Terriers in early games next season, but All-Patriot League Second Teamer Nelson is returning along with dynamic All-Patriot League Rookie teamers Maren Durant and Sydney Johnson, who made noise in their first collegiate seasons. With the return of many core pieces, the Terriers should compete for the top spot in the conference again.
It was a strange year for BU men’s hockey. The Terriers made the Beanpot final after beating arch-rival Boston College, but lost on a controversial call to Northeastern University. The Terriers competed in a wild Hockey East league that saw most of the conference still battling for playoff spots entering the final weekend. BU was able to secure a playoff spot despite a goaltender position battle between graduate Sam Tucker and freshman Ashton Abel. The battle, which usually saw head coach Albie O’Connell going with the hot hand, continued into the final weekend of the season and it was unknown who O’Connell would be playing between the pipes in BU’s canceled quarterfinal matchup.
Looking ahead: Notably, senior forward and captain Patrick Curry is graduating, junior defenseman Cam Crotty just signed with the Arizona Coyotes and freshman forward Trevor Zegras is heading to the NHL, leaving huge gaps to be filled on the ice for BU. But despite losing many players to graduation and the NHL, the Terriers have enough talent on the roster to continue to compete in a strong Hockey East field, especially if Abel continues to improve in the net.
BU blazed through their Hockey East competition in the regular season — except for No. 3 Northeastern University, which defeated the Terriers three times. Entering the playoffs, BU was primed to make another run at the conference title before being upended on home ice by the University of Maine in a two-game sweep. With the season over, the Terriers graduated eight seniors, including star senior forward Sammy Davis, whose 142 points rank sixth in program history.
Losing eight seniors is tough to bounce back from in a single season, but if any team could do it, it’s this one. Junior goaltender Corinne Schroeder will be returning after she finished her second consecutive record-breaking season with a .943 save percentage. The Terriers’ youth, especially freshmen Nadia Mattivi and Julia Nearis, gained a lot of experience this season and can bring BU back to the conference tournament.
The cancelation of spring sports came early into each team’s respective season, Patriot League play had just begun for BU’s lacrosse teams and softball was still on the West Coast playing their non-conference schedule, leaving a big question mark in terms of how those teams could have performed.
Looking ahead: The NCAA has granted all Spring sport athletes another year of eligibility, but for BU’s seniors a tough decision must be made, potentially forgoing their senior season to begin post-college life. For lacrosse teams, the lost season gives another year to bring both team’s freshmen classes together to compete in the Patriot League.
Softball will see the return of most players as there are only two seniors on the roster and the electric pitching duo of junior Ali DuBois and sophomore Emily Gant should continue to wreak havoc on the Patriot League next season.
In these unprecedented times, teams will have to rely on video conferences and individual workouts to prepare for the 2020-21 seasons, but the future looks bright for Terrier athletics as BU’s youth-filled teams mature and grow closer.