Lacrosse, NCAA, Sports

2021 BU men’s lacrosse playoff preview

The Boston University men’s lacrosse team is on its way to its fourth Patriot League playoff run in five years following a shortened 2020 season due to COVID-19.

The Patriot League announced Friday it would expand the number of teams in the tournament from four to six. The Terriers are now slated to play Colgate University for the third time this season at Nickerson Field May 4. 

thomas niedringhaus in a men's lacrosse game at boston university
Sophomore attacker Thomas Niedringhaus in a Feb. 8, 2020 game against The Ohio State University. Boston University men’s lacrosse will face Colgate University in the Patriot League Quarterfinals May 4 at Nickerson Field. LIBBY MCCLELLAND/ DFP FILE

Even with the touch-and-go status of this spring’s athletics season, the Terriers were able to put together a 6-4 record. The team lost two non-conference games, and the remaining Patriot League defeats were at the hands of an Army West Point team ranked second as of April 18. 

For all the potential chaos this season held when it started, head coach Ryan Polley said he is pleased with his team’s consistent focus and the position they’re in now.

“We typically start on Jan. 7, and we started on Feb. 1, so there’s been a lack of development from a timing standpoint,” Polley said in an interview. “The fact that we’ve been able to be 6-4 …  is a tribute to the leadership and commitment of the guys on the team and the fact that we have some really good players.”

Part of the Terriers’ success this year can be attributed to individual offensive performances. Junior attackman Timmy Ley leads the Patriot League in goals per game, despite going down more than two weeks ago with an injury, and sophomore attackman Vince D’Alto is leading the conference in points-per-game at five.

In addition to Ley, the team has been missing other key players. Polley said they will be without senior midfielder Sean Christman — the starting faceoff man — and junior midfielder Jake Cates. 

“We’re down three guys that are the best at their position,” Polley said. “That’s hard, and guys got to step up, but injuries have played a major part of the recent lack of efficiency in the things that we’re doing.”

The thinned roster didn’t seem to have much of an effect on the Terriers’ performance in their last game against Colgate. When BU travelled to Hamilton, New York, the team scored seven goals with six different players in the second quarter alone. D’Alto tallied five points, and sophomore attackman Louis Perfetto earned six. It was the game that pushed the Terriers into the playoffs. 

The Raider loss aside, Colgate has given the Terriers some fits this season. In the first matchup, the Terriers had to come back from a five-goal deficit to get the win, and in the second, the Raiders pulled off a respectable comeback of their own, scoring six unanswered goals in the fourth quarter before running out of time.

“I think we’re very familiar with each other,” Polley said. “They’re talented, certainly enough to put a run together … I think our best lacrosse against them has been some of the best lacrosse we’ve played all year, so certainly we’re hoping to capture that and figure it out and do that next Tuesday.”

If the Terriers are able to complete the season sweep of Colgate, they’ll move into the final four and play Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania later that week. The two teams haven’t faced each other this season. 

The last time the Terriers met up with the Mountain Hawks was in May of 2019, when Lehigh eliminated BU in the semifinal round of the Patriot League Tournament — a match tied for the furthest the Terriers have made it in the competition so far.

“I think everybody knows Lehigh would be an incredible challenge, but we need to get there first,” Polley said. “Although we talk about taking that next step, we can’t take that step until you take the first one, and that first one’s coming up on Tuesday.”

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