Field Hockey, Sports

No. 15 field hockey looks for spot among 16 NCAA tournament teams

The No. 15 Boston University field hockey team enjoyed a dominant campaign during its 2012 season. It outscored, outshot and out-defended most of the northeast. All there is to do is hope.

The NCAA announces its selections for the Division I tournament Monday, and the Terriers (12–6, 4–1 America East) are in the running for a spot. However, their regular season record leaves them in a gray area. Technically, they did well enough to receive a bid, but their season is just as likely to have ended Sunday in a victory over Yale University.

“This weekend could really go either way,” said BU head coach Sally Starr, referring to the last few games around the country this weekend and how they could impact her team’s prospects. “Quite honestly, we’re going to be a bubble team,” she said. “We’re either going to be the last team picked [to get into the tournament] or the last team not selected.”

The NCAA chooses 16 teams to play for the Division I title. Several bids automatically go to conference champions around the country with the remaining few being awarded to the universities with the best regular season performance.

Because it is transferring to the Patriot League in the 2012-13 academic year without adequate notice to the America East conference, BU is ineligible for the automatic bid America East grants each year. As a result, it must hope for one of the at-large bids.

If selected, BU would compete in the first round of playoffs on Nov. 10 in Virginia. The tournament will then continue with single-elimination rules with quarterfinals on Nov. 11, semifinals on Nov. 16, and the championship game on Nov. 18. This means the winning team will have to play — and win — four games in a single week.

“[Endurance] is really important,” Starr said. “That’s why this past week [in practice] we really focused on our fitness quite a bit.”

Starr said she gave her team a few days off to recover after a two-game weekend that closed out October, but she immediately set her team to work once the break was over. This meant running, a little tactical and technical improvement and then much more running.

The work was draining, and despite the energy spent this week — not to mention more than two months of rigorous regular season competition — the Terriers continue to find a way to stay motivated.

“I think if we had a team that didn’t really care and didn’t really want to keep playing, then the practices and the work level would not really be good.” Starr said. “But I think that we have a team that really wants to keep playing, a team that really focuses on continuing.”

That focus showed throughout the season and was rewarded by the America East last week when it gave eight BU players all-conference honors.

Junior Ella Gunson earned America East Midfielder of the Year. The choice was unanimous, seeing as the 2012 New Zealand Olympian led her team in points, goals and assists in her first season as a Terrier.

For only the second time in university history, BU had a Goalkeeper of the Year in senior Jess Maroney.

Another BU record-holder, senior back Jacinda McLeod, also joins them on the All-Conference First Team. Though she did not win it this year, McLeod is still the only player in Terrier history to win Defensive Player of the Year twice in her sophomore and junior years.

Other BU honors include junior forward Ysi Shieb and senior midfielder Nicole van Oosterom on the All-America East Second Team, freshman forwards Rachel Coll and Sofi Laurito on the All-Rookie Team, as well as senior forward Tabi Hatch and Maroney on the All-Academic Team.

“All these individual awards speak wonders of the strengths of the team,” Starr said. “Honestly though, I’m slightly disappointed [Jacinda] didn’t win Defensive Player of the Year when she’s clearly the best defensive player not only in the America East, but really in the country.”

What may have disqualified McLeod from the honor was an ACL tear, among other injuries to her leg late in the season, which prevented her from playing in the last few games.

However, previously injured junior midfielder Madeleine Hackett, who had been unable to play due to a concussion in mid-October, returned to practice this week. This only added to the Terriers’ desire to finish the year in the NCAA tournament.

“Our team has played with the best of them,” Starr said. “I just hope we get the opportunity to go out there and finish it.”

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