The Boston University field hockey team enters October with a 5-7 record, coming off an upset of the then-No. 8 University of Virginia and its first conference win of 2008. With an offense that is starting to work together and a defense anchored by sophomore goalkeeper Kim Kastuk, the Terriers have reason to believe their past success in the month of October will continue through conference play and into the postseason.
Since 2003, the Terriers are a combined 26-7 in October, with only one of their seven losses coming against a team from the America East Conference. BU’s last loss to a conference opponent was a 2-1 setback against the University at Albany at Jack Barry Field Oct. 22, 2005.
‘By October, we have the beginning of the season out of our systems,’ junior midfielder Gabby Hajjar said. ‘We have gotten used to how we all play, and by October we are halfway through the season. We know what the coaches expect of us and by the time October comes around we have our conference [schedule]. Conferences are the ticket to the NCAA [Tournament], so more is on the line and we are playing for each other.’
With all but one of the America East teams under the .500 mark, BU’s continued progression through September has put it atop the conference heading into this weekend.
Like a rock
Kastuk has been nearly flawless this season, weathering a less-than-stellar defense as it adjusts to a new lineup. Amidst the turmoil and confusion, Kastuk has posted a conference-best three shutouts this season, while registering just fewer than five saves per game.
‘Kim is a rock,’ Hajjar said. ‘She keeps us in games, and we have confidence in her. She’s focused and knows what is going on in front of her. She is our last line of defense, so she knows that. She knows she’s got to be there.’
Boasting the second lowest goals-against average in the conference, Kastuk has positioned herself in a dead heat with the University at Albany’s Ashley Rose for the title of best goalie in America East.
Jumpstarting the offense
Despite its momentous wins at the end of September, the Terriers offense still seems to be sputtering in terms of finishing in front of the net. Entering October with the second worst goals-per-game average in America East, BU has had to lean on the shoulders of its defense for wins as of late ‘-‘- an uncharacteristic trait of coach Sally Starr’s teams over the last few years.’ ‘ ‘
Despite ranking fifth in the conference in goals, the Terriers lead America East in goals-against average through 11 games. Surrendering just 24 goals all year, the defense has provided a suitable crutch for an offense that has put just 18 shots past its opponents.
With the addition of junior forward Nikki Lloyd, the Terriers have seen an offensive spark lately, scoring a combined six goals in their wins over Virginia and the University of New Hampshire.
‘We have a lot of inexperience in the front line,’ Hajjar said. ‘Some of the girls are somewhat uncomfortable carrying the ball in or going one-on-one. But this week in practice, we’re going to practice on our attacking skills and turn everything around going into the weekend.’