The Boston University men’s lacrosse team defeated Merrimack College in their opening game of the season Saturday in a 15-12 victory over the Warriors in Andover, Massachusetts.
The team opened the season much differently than it has in years prior — now with strict COVID-19 guidelines and the understanding that games can be cancelled at any time. Unsure of whether spring sports were going to continue as scheduled in 2021, the Patriot League men’s lacrosse programs were finally given the thumbs up Jan. 8.
“So many people have sacrificed and a lot of work has gone in,” BU head coach Ryan Polley said. “If we’re not careful and don’t do smart things or get unlucky, this thing could end in a moment’s notice, so we’re going to continue to value every day that we get together and hopefully continue to play games.”
The Saturday game opened with chances early on in the first quarter by both teams, but it was Merrimack who opened up the scoring. Newly transferred junior attacker Tommy Rooney got a goal a third of the way into the quarter. Rooney would end with four goals by the final whistle — the highest individual tally by any of the Warriors on the day.
“We didn’t have a great scouting report on [Rooney] because we just didn’t have that much information on him,” Polley said. “I think he made a couple nice plays, a couple nice shots and he certainly hurt us for four goals.”
The remainder of the quarter was back and forth. The Terriers answered the goal by scoring two of their own, but the lead was short-lived as the Warriors tied up the game with 0:05 left on the clock.
As the second quarter opened up, the Warriors found their footing in the game, notching two on the board in the opening five minutes. However, that grip on the game would quickly diminish as the Terriers rallied for five goals before halftime. Three of those goals came from junior attacker Timmy Ley, who would go on to put the ball in the back of the net a total of six times — a career high.
“He does what Timmy does and that’s find open spaces around the cage,” Polley said. “He’s got great hands and he’s got a great ability to finish the ball in tight spaces and he worked really hard to find those spots.”
The third quarter would see the same goal-saturated ebbs and flows the second did with the Warriors tying up the game with brothers Tommy Rooney and sophomore midfielder Jack Rooney combining for three. Experiencing deja vu, the Terriers got their mojo back with four unanswered goals to round out the quarter, two of which coming from Ley.
The start of the fourth quarter completed the trend of strong Warrior starts with senior attacker Christian Thomas adding two to the home side’s tally, cutting the deficit to two goals.
After a goal by junior midfielder Jake Cates that extended the lead for the Terriers, the Warriors took advantage of poor defensive play and scored three to tie up the game at 12-12 with 3:35 left in the competition. The Terriers allowed a total of 29 shots on their net in the match, which eclipsed their own offensive total by 16.
“There were times that we were very in sync … and there were times that we were out of sync and we gave up too easy of opportunities,” Polley said. “The goal is to continue to get better on the back end and make it difficult for teams to score on us.”
The Terriers, with the help of junior goalkeeper Matt Garber, held off the Warrior onslaught. The away side then proceeded to score three unanswered goals, seeing off the game with a victory. Garber, who Polley named as his MVP of the game, saved a total of 17 shots.
BU will take the field Saturday against the University of Massachusetts Amherst at home on Nickerson Field.