Before Sunday afternoon, the Boston University men’s lacrosse team had never competed at the Patriot League Championship game. Not only would the Terriers (12-4, 7-1 PL) host the game against the United States Military Academy, but BU would also beat the Black Knights (12-4, 6-2 PL) 14-10 to win the Patriot League and clinch an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
“We talked about so many people coming back and the guys just weren’t playing for themselves,” head coach Ryan Polley said in the postgame press conference. “They were playing for all these people that the program means so much … so it was great to have so many people back cheering for us.”
BU clinched their appearance in Sunday’s championship after a game-winning goal by sophomore midfielder Tommy Bourque with 1:14 left in overtime against Lehigh on Friday.
Entering Sunday’s game the Terriers were 2-8 all time against the Black Knights.
“They are such a great team and I have so much respect for [Army Head] Coach Alberici and his staff,” Polley said. “A lot of credit and congratulations to them on a great season.”
Senior attack Timmy Ley opened up the scoring with a behind the back goal with 12:08 to play in the first quarter.
“[Ley] was the guy that kind of probably stepped forward most for them today,” Alberici said post game. “He was terrific.”
A failed clear by the Terriers allowed Army junior midfielder Reese Burek to score.
“[Burek] was terrific,” Alberici said. “One of the things I was very pleased about and what we might have done best was just in transition offensively.”
With 5:20 left in the first quarter, Bourque would add an unassisted goal to give the Terriers a 2-1 lead. After BU won the ensuing faceoff, junior attack Louis Perfetto passed the ball to senior midfielder Matt Hilburn who buried it in the back of the net.
Despite a five-point performance in the matchup against Army on April 29, Perfetto did not get any special attention from the Army coaching staff.
“You can’t afford to focus on [Perfetto] because the other two are really really good too,” Alberici said.
BU went into the second quarter up 3-1 before Army senior midfielder Bobby Abshire netted his 27th goal of the season. However, an unnecessary roughness penalty on Army led to a man-up goal by Perfetto.
Burek added another goal to cut the BU lead in half, but BU junior attack Vince D’Alto and Ley responded with one goal apiece to jump ahead 6-3.
“Army, they like to hedge, they don’t like to slide too much,” Ley said. “So like we just won a lot of our one-on-one matchups when we needed to.”
Army senior attack Brendan Nichtern added another goal to cut the BU lead to two. The teams exchanged goals, giving the Terriers a 7-5 lead heading into the locker room at halftime.
The Terriers opened up the scoring in the second half with a Perfetto goal assisted by Bourque. Burek netted two in a row to bring BU back down to a one goal lead. BU’s Hilburn, sophomore attack and midfielder James Corcoran, junior midfielder Donnie Howard and Ley all found the back of the net to take a commanding 12-7 lead entering the fourth quarter.
Nichtern scored the first goal of the fourth quarter before Ley responded with his fourth goal of the game. Army senior midfielder Matthew Horace scored from midfield and senior midfielder Danny Kielbasa notched another to make it a 13-10 game. Bourque quickly responded with 8:23 left in the game to give BU a 14-10 advantage, which would hold until the buzzer sounded. The Terriers walked away Patriot League Champions, the first time in program history.
Perfetto’s two goals and three assists in the semifinal match and two goals and two assists in the championship earned him the title of Patriot League Tournament MVP.
With the championship win, the Terriers secured an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament and will travel to Princeton for the first round on May 14. The Terriers and Tigers met once this season, with Princeton coming out on top 12-7.