After being tabbed as the America East preseason favorite and earning a national ranking, the No. 10 Boston University lacrosse team puts its high expectations on the line this afternoon in its home opener against the University of Massachusetts-Amherst at 4 p.m.
BU’s four consecutive league titles have proven the Terriers to be an America East juggernaut and allowed the team to break onto the national stage, where BU coach Liz Robertshaw said she thinks the team can be a true force.
‘I think we’ve got the program to a nice point, and that’s something we’ve all been really proud of,’ Robertshaw said. ‘But the girls are ready to take it to the next level. They have experience of a conference championship, but they want to build upon it. They want to take that nationally top-10 ranking and build upon it, and not be happy with where we are, but try to surpass it.’
UMass will be the Terriers’ first test of the season. After the Minutewomen, BU will face higher-ranked opponents such as No. 3 Syracuse University and No. 5 University of Pennsylvania during spring break.
Robertshaw said she wants to get the team going against UMass to climb farther up the national rankings.’
‘We have to beat the teams that are ranked above us and that are playing well,’ Robertshaw said. ‘We need to do well against the teams that are going to compete in the national tournament. We need to take care of business against every opponent, starting with UMass tomorrow.’
UMass boasts an aggressive style of play that BU experienced in an off-season matchup against the Minutewomen last fall. Robertshaw said that UMass’ team contains a handful of strong scorers, but that the BU defense should be able to control them when they attack.
‘They have a couple of girls that are doing well going to the cage, and we will try to stop them and do the best we can,’ Robertshaw said. ‘We need a good output from our attacking end and our defensive end to come out on top tomorrow.’
UMass’s aggression should be offset by the Terriers’ explosive offense. BU returns 10 starters, including last year’s leading scorer, senior captain Sarah Dalton. This veteran presence should give the team a significant offensive advantage.
‘The amount of returners is going to give us a lot of creative looks,’ Robertshaw said. ‘We have a lot of people getting into the mix. They know what we’re asking, and they can contribute. The more opportunities to get people in, that makes us dangerous. It’s not just about the 12 people on the field.’
Robertshaw said that first-game nerves are to be expected, but that the team gained confidence in last weekend’s Princeton Tournament, in which the Terriers blew out Princeton University but lost to Hofstra University by two goals.
‘First-time jitters mean something,’ Robertshaw said. ‘The win/loss column comes into play, and people can get nervous from that. But seeing how well we played at Princeton against a high-caliber team, I think that will bring us confidence in our game tomorrow.’
The Terriers would ultimately love to earn another America East championship and go as far as the NCAA Championships, but Robertshaw recognizes that preseason picks mean nothing if the team doesn’t perform well.
‘Being nationally ranked is great. It gives last year’s team a pat on the back,’ she said. ‘But this year’s team needs to prove that we want to be the best possible BU lacrosse team that we can be.’