The Boston University women’s lacrosse team claimed a spot in the Patriot League Tournament for the fifth year in a row Saturday afternoon after a 9-8 victory over the United States Military Academy.
The win also extended the Terriers’ winning streak to six and a three-year undefeated streak against Army (9-7, 3-5 Patriot League), dating back to when the Black Knights joined the Patriot League in 2016.
BU head coach Liz Robertshaw described the playoff clinch as a relief after a rough patch at the beginning of the season.
“I think it’s great, you know, we had a couple bumps along the road, so the team’s definitely excited,” Robertshaw said. “But we know the regular season isn’t over yet, so we’re going to be looking at that first.”
Forty seconds into the game, freshman attack Ava Barry opened the scoring with a quick move off a free-position shot.
Army returned fire with two back-to-back goals from freshman attack Mikayla Bergin and senior midfielder Rachel Hornick.
Hornick, one of four seniors honored during the Black Knights’ Senior Day, leads the team in points with 24 goals and 20 assists.
Terrier freshman midfielder Ryann Gaffney tied the game at the 21:55 mark and Barry brought the team ahead 3-2 exactly 10 minutes later, followed by a marker from sophomore midfielder Lexi Lewis.
The Black Knights struck once more before the end of the half, but senior midfielder Caroline English closed the scoring with a free-position shot on the man up, and BU went into intermission leading 5-3.
Robertshaw noted the impact of the senior players throughout the game.
“Our older players really kept us grounded and focused on what we needed to do,” Robertshaw said. “I think some of our younger players were a little rattled or unfocused, but I really look to our upperclassmen to settle some things down. I was really impressed by that.”
The first 10 minutes of the second half saw only two goals from Army, with Bergin, the only Black Knight who had a multi-goal game, knotting the contest at 5-5.
The Terriers drew ahead once again when freshman midfielder Emily Vervlied notched a tally at 19:49, only for Army to score twice yet again.
BU recollected itself for a final stretch, starting with senior midfielder and defender Sarah Andersen finding English in transition, giving her a wide open shot for her second goal of the game.
Over the past five games, English has put up 13 points — in part due to her being moved to an attack role in the absence of senior attack Avery Donahoe, according to Robertshaw.
“I honestly think she’s the kid who just likes to play the game and have fun, so she’s really enjoying April and hopefully May too,” Robertshaw said. “She has that sense of, ‘I’m a senior, this is my last go and I’m going to play my best lacrosse right now.’”
The game winner of BU’s three-goal stretch came from junior midfielder Kelly Mathews with 12:27 remaining in the second half.
Less than five minutes later, Army freshman midfielder Beth Hofmann scored the team’s final goal, but the Black Knights were unable to complete the comeback, and the Terriers emerged victorious.
Both teams were forced to hold their ground defensively. The Terriers led the afternoon in ground balls, caused turnovers and draw controls.
Black Knight senior attack Amy Johnston came into the game ranked second in the conference with an average of 5.40 draw control wins per game, but was kept to two Saturday afternoon.
The Terriers also forced Army sophomore goalkeeper Maddie Burns to make 18 saves.
Senior goalkeeper Christine Laible, who was named the MVP for the Turnpike Trophy after making 13 saves against the College of the Holy Cross, made 11 saves, including one with 50 seconds left in regulation to keep the Terriers ahead.
BU now has one game left in the regular season against the United States Naval Academy, which is currently ranked second in the Patriot League.
“We know they play at a high level, aggressive, fast, so we’ve been keeping an eye on them,” Robertshaw said of her team’s upcoming opponent. “We try to focus on the ‘right now,’ but I don’t think how they play is going to be a surprise for us. We had some great play [Saturday], and we had some soft spots we need to correct before going into next week’s game.”