The Boston University field hockey team comes back home Sunday to face off against Harvard University at New Balance Field.
The No. 24 Terriers (7-4, 3-0 Patriot League) come into this game following a weekend split against Lafayette College and Princeton University. BU defeated the Leopards (3-8, 1-1 Patriot League) 7-4 but fell to the No. 4 Tigers (8-3) 3-1.
The Terriers let in a number of soft goals last weekend, and BU head coach Sally Starr said she is looking for some improvement.
“I think the biggest thing for us, just have better defensive organization more quickly.” Starr said. “I think if we’d done those things well against Princeton, we could have been successful.”
The No. 10 Crimson (9-1) come into this game having won six in a row.
During that win streak, Harvard has given up just two goals, one each in two of its past three games after shutting out three opponents and before shutting out another.
Sunday, the team went 2-0 against Bryant University with goals being scored by senior fullback Olivia Allin and freshman forward Rachel Greenwood.
The Crimson dominated the game from start to finish: they outshot the Bulldogs (2-9) 31-0 on the game, forcing the Bryant goalkeeper to make 13 saves, and had 10 penalty corners compared to zero for the Bulldogs.
Allin opened the scoring when she placed the team on the scoreboard with her third goal this season with assists from senior midfielder Emily Duarte and junior midfielder Casey Allen — who leads Harvard with eight assists, already topping the seven she registered last season.
Greenwood scored her first goal for the Crimson in the 40th minute, giving Harvard some insurance.
Harvard comes to BU in its best 10-game start in program history, with the only loss the Crimson have taken this year being against the No. 1 undefeated University of Maryland by a final score of 3-1.
Crimson goalkeepers have been splitting the starting position, with freshman Ellie Shahbo going first in net in five games so far in the season, including the team’s sole loss and four of its last six wins.
Senior goalkeeper Libby Manela has started four games, including two shutouts.
The team’s third goalkeeper, junior Callie Rennyson, has seen the least amount of playing time, having started only one game, against the College of the Holy Cross, and playing less than 26 minutes combined in two other matches.
BU last matched up against Harvard in the 2016 season, losing 1-0. In 2015, the Terriers defeated the Crimson 3-2.
Last Saturday, BU recorded six shots with two on goal, and the only Terrier goal came from sophomore forward Ailsa Connolly. The Terriers did have a 3-2 advantage in penalty corners.
Starr, while disappointed with the lack of offense, was pleased with how the defense kept her team in the match.
“I do have to applaud our defense in the second half against the very good Princeton team, where they weren’t able to get any corners, and we really limited them,” Starr said. “We’re anticipating a very similar type of game against Harvard.”
Senior goalkeeper Kathleen Keegan has started every game this season, finishing six of them, and has earned the title of Patriot League Goalkeeper of the Week earlier in the season.
This game also comes off the heels of a decisive win against Lafayette that kept BU in the top spot in the Patriot League.
On Saturday, BU overtook an early Lafayette lead with six consecutive goals to bring the score to 6-1 in the 51st minute.
Starr said she saw a lot of talent in her freshman class.
The game saw the first goals from freshmen midfielders Haley Lowell and Molly Rottinghaus.
In addition, freshmen midfielder Rebecca Janes and forward Casey Thompson have played 11 games this season, each of them having recorded at least one goal for the Terriers, much to the pleasure of Starr.
All four of BU’s losses this season came against ranked teams, and Starr said she welcomes the challenges of a difficult, non-conference schedule.
“I’m happy we have a game like Harvard coming up on next Sunday,” Starr said, “because it’s exactly what we need to test ourselves to see if we have improved in those areas that we really need to get better at defensively.”