Field Hockey, Sports

Field hockey’s impressive 2016 run falls short of NCAA Tournament

Senior forward Hester Van der Laan won Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year this season. PHOTO BY JUSTIN HAWK/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
Senior forward Hester van der Laan won Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year this season. PHOTO BY JUSTIN HAWK/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

The Boston University field hockey team’s 2016 season could be best described as a promising start culminating in a disappointing finish.

“Really good team energy, team culture,” said BU head coach Sally Starr. “Everybody really cared about each other and really wanted the success for the program.”

The Terriers (13-6) finished boasting an impressive 12-5 regular season record and clinched the No. 1 seed in the Patriot League Tournament, but ultimately ended postseason play in a 1-0 battle at home against American University in the conference championship on Nov. 6.

Despite the season-ending setback and its being denied entry into the 2016 NCAA Field Hockey Championships, this was a season to remember for BU. After a historical 7-0 start that captured the attention of coaches around the country, the Terriers were as high as No. 9 in the national coaches’ polls.

Following an impressive 9-0 rout of Colgate University on Sept. 17, in a game where the Terriers netted all nine goals in the second half, the season’s successes seemed to stall. BU followed this up by dropping four consecutive contests, the first of which was a 2-1 shootout loss at Lafayette College on Sept. 23.

Despite these losses, the Terriers were also able to rack up some impressive top-20 wins during the course of the year. BU eked out 2-1 victories over No. 13 Northwestern University and the University of Maine, which was ranked No. 20 in the country at the time of its loss to BU.

The Terriers also bested Commonwealth Avenue foe Boston College in a 1-0 overtime victory that was a turning point in their season. BU was the only team to shutout the Eagles in the regular season who qualified for the national tournament with an at-large bid.

The Terriers continued by winning five of their last six regular season matches, with the only hiccup being a 2-1 loss against No. 3 Syracuse University.

While the Terriers were ultimately left out of the NCAA tournament, their successful season did not go unnoticed by the Patriot League awards committee.

Senior forward Hester van der Laan was named the Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year after finishing with seven goals and five assists.

Senior defender Ellie Landsman was named the Patriot League’s Defensive Player of the Year, anchoring a defense that surrendered a league-low 22 goals. Starr was also recognized by the league, as she was named Coach of the Year for the second straight season.

Van der Laan and Landsman were joined by classmates Taylor Blood and Cammy Jensen on the All-Patriot League First Team.

Senior forward Amanda Cassera was recognized as an all Patriot-League Second Team member after leading the Terriers in scoring with nine goals.

“That’s a trademark of our program, the last couple years we’ve gotten lots of those awards and this year was no exception, really well deserved,” Starr said. “Hester was definitely one of the top attacking players in the conference. I think Ellie was absolutely one of the best defensive players in the conference.”

Sophomore Ally Hammel seemed to be snubbed from postseason recognition. The Duxbury native backboned the Terrier defense along with Landsman, but besides being named Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week three times this season, her efforts went unnoticed.

With eight graduating seniors, it will be a tall task for the Terriers to defend their regular-season title next season.

Starr has faith in her team, though. The addition of a talented 2017 recruiting class should help fill the void of the graduating seniors.

“We are bringing an equally as strong, if not even stronger 2017 class,” Starr added. “We have eight people joining us next year. There’s going to be high school All-Americans in that group, kids that have played for New Zealand Under-21. One of the best goalies in Australia is coming to us, so we have a lot of talent joining us next year.”

Starr stressed that she doesn’t expect next season to be a rebuilding one for her side, and said she believes that they will be back.

“We are absolutely reloading,” Starr said. “We are not rebuilding. We are reloading for next year.”

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