The Boston University field hockey team defeated Bucknell University 1-0 in the Patriot League semifinals, earning a spot in the conference championship.
“It was a really gritty game,” head coach Sally Starr said. “Bucknell, they compete. They play hard. They don’t give you anything, they don’t give you any space. It was really a gritty game. We really had to stay mentally tough. We had to stay nonreactive, and I think we really did a good job with that.”
The Terriers (10-8, 5-1 PL) dominated in penalty corners with nine compared to the Bison (5-13, 3-3 PL), who only had a single penalty corner opportunity, which proved to be the game-changer.
Patriot League Rookie of the Year forward Martu Coulo proved to be the hero when she tipped in a shot past Bucknell sophomore goalkeeper Nora Frederick early in the fourth quarter of the match. The game-winning goal was assisted by sophomore defender Payton Anderson.
“We’ve been working on that type of goal-scoring situation. You can’t rely on Payton’s strikes to score all the time,” Starr said.
A lot of Terrier scoring throughout the season had been through Anderson, who has nine goals. As a defender, she finds most of her opportunities to score on penalty corners and penalty strokes.
The Bison were looking for revenge against the Terriers. Four days ago, the Terriers won 2-1 to claim the regular season championship and No. 1 seed heading into the conference postseason. In that game, Anderson scored the game-winning goal on a penalty corner.
The Bucknell defense limited the Terrier’s offense in the first quarter, keeping Boston out of their offensive 25 for most of the quarter. In the last few minutes, however, the Terriers generated offense and drew two penalty corners. They could not get the ball past Frederick, and the score remained 0-0 after one quarter.
While they did not get any shots on goal in the first quarter, Bucknell played in the circle more, eventually earning a corner in the second. The Bison added two shots in the second quarter, but senior goalkeeper Caroline Kelly stayed solid, maintaining the deadlock into halftime.
“[Kelly] didn’t have to do a lot, but what she did she was really good at it. It was the type of thing where she wasn’t called on as much as she has been in the past couple games,” Starr said. “That’s really a difficult game for a goalie because you got to really stay mentally sharp, mentally ready, and she absolutely did that for us.”
In the two teams’ previous matchup, there was a goal in each of the first three quarters of the game. In the semifinal matchup, however, the teams stayed in the midfield for the majority of the first half.
Coming out of the halftime break, the Terriers quickly took control of the game and maintained ball possession, drawing a penalty corner just over three minutes in. However, Anderson’s rocket off the insert was deflected just feet above the goal and out of play.
“In the second half, we did a better job of really getting into our attacking end of the field off of their turnovers,” Starr said.
Despite a green card on senior defender Rachel Borzymowski, the Terriers still generated a penalty corner, coming very close to their first goal. The first penalty corner became four, but Frederick stayed solid alongside Bucknell’s defense.
The Terriers entered the fourth quarter strong on the offensive end. Within two minutes, BU drew a penalty corner. Sophomore midfielder Ella Rottinghaus shot, and Coulo scored what would be the game-winning goal.
Bucknell pulled Frederick for the additional fielder, but the Terriers cleared any opportunity the Bison brought forth, securing a trip to the championship.
“The defense was outstanding today. I think that was a big difference for us. [Bucknell’s] corners are outstanding,” Starr said. “It was really critical that we held them to only one corner, and it’s not easy to do. The team was outstanding and doing that.”
The Terriers will advance to the PL Championship on Saturday against Lehigh University, who won their semifinal match 2-1 in shootouts.