In its final, and most consequential, game of the regular season, the Boston University men’s lacrosse team defeated the College of the Holy Cross 9-4 to clinch a spot in the 2018 Patriot League Tournament.
Coming off a tough 23-9 loss to Loyola University Maryland last weekend, BU (7-7, 3-5 Patriot League) was in need of a victory in order to secure a playoff spot.
With the Crusaders (4-9, 2-6 Patriot League) in the same spot, the Terriers sealed the regular season with a strong performance.
“We had a ton of energy,” BU head coach Ryan Polley said. “The guys were just really excited to play in a big game, and they did a really good job of not letting the moment get to them. We had a great week of practice, and were ready to go to with the senior leadership. We’re ready to execute, and I thought they played a great game.”
The Terriers scored the game’s first seven goals, only allowing the Crusaders to score once in the first half, and Polley said he was very pleased with his team’s strong start.
“We didn’t score until the six minute mark, but we had some great possessions early,” Polley said. “I thought that was a really important thing for us. Even though we didn’t score, we had great possessions.”
The team’s early 7-0 lead was especially promising after several games with slow starts.
“The last couple games, our first-goal possessions were kind of weak,” Polley said. “So, we really talked about being ready to go from that first whistle. I thought we had great offensive possessions, and we did a great job on the defensive end.”
Freshman attack Chris Gray led the offense, scoring three of the Terriers’ first five goals, and assisting on another.
All season Gray’s dominance has been on full display, and Polley noted the importance of the freshman’s playmaking.
“We needed [Gray] to step up in the biggest game of the year, and I really thought he did a great job getting everybody involved,” Polley said. “He even had a couple great looks that we didn’t convert. I thought Chris really controlled the game [on Friday].”
The rookie attack leads the Terriers with 59 points in 2018, including a team-best 34 assists. He ended the regular season tied for second in goals with 25.
What’s the secret to his success? It’s simple, according to Polley.
“He’s just a really good player,” Polley said. “The moment is never too big for him. We’re better when the ball is in his stick, and he made a lot of good decisions [Friday] night.”
Polley has high expectations for Gray, and hopes his young star will be rewarded with accolades, namely Rookie of the Year and being named to the First Team All-Conference.
“He is a special player, and I think he’s going to rewrite the BU record book,” Polley said.
In addition to Gray, Terrier sophomore goalkeeper Joe McSorley performed well between the pipes on Friday, allowing a season-low four goals, equalling the mark he set on February 20 against Dartmouth.
McSorley ended the contest with 10 saves, and was awarded the Turnpike Trophy MVP.
“McSorley played great,” Polley said. “He made the saves we needed to make, he stole a couple and he really just allowed us to get on that run.”
The Terriers entered the third quarter with a commanding 7-1 lead. The scoring barrage continued, with junior attack James Burr and senior midfielder Greg Farris each netting a goal on man-up opportunities to bring the score to 9-1.
The Crusaders would go on to score the final three goals of the matchup, with two from senior attack Logan LeBlond in the third and one from sophomore attack Kevin Kodzis in the fourth.
With the victory, the Terriers will enter their second-ever postseason tournament berth as the No. 6 seed and will play No. 3 seed Bucknell University Tuesday night.
After ending the season with a big win, Polley said BU is in good spirits.
“We were just excited,” Polley said. “We’ve been talking about playing a full 60-minute game — offense, defense, facing off, special teams — and we were able to do that [Friday] night. It was a complete team victory. It was a good feeling, and we’ve been waiting for it. I’m just really proud that we were able to do it in a really big moment.”