Bostonia is published in print three times a year and updated weekly on the web.
As the sun slowly made its away across New Balance Field last week, members of the Terrier field hockey team could be seen briskly executing sprints and spacing drills as they prepared for a recent doubleheader, one of them the first-ever Patriot League game on New Balance Field.
The season marks a series of firsts for the women Terriers. Not only are they competing in a new league (like most of BU’s varsity teams, field hockey has joined the Patriot League), they have a permanent home for the first time ever. For the past 13 years, the field hockey team has had to practice and play home games at Harvard and Northeastern, because Nickerson Field’s turf is ill-suited for the sport. That has meant losing valuable pregame time loading equipment into buses and traveling across the city to host competitors. Now, with the recent opening of New Balance Field, the team finally has a dedicated field on campus.
Head coach Sally Starr, now in her 33rd season with the Terriers, says that having a permanent home on campus will give them a competitive edge they haven’t had before. “I think it will help the players bring their focus in before the game,” Starr says. “Being able to walk over to the field instead of spending time traveling makes a huge difference as far as preparation goes, and it gives us a true home-field advantage for the first time in years.”
The Terriers won their first conference match with a dramatic 2-1 defeat of Colgate University on September 21, and they are currently 6-3.
Although this year’s team boasts strong players and a lot of talent, they are also young. With 10 freshmen on the team and 7 underclassmen starting, it’s vital to have some vocal veterans in the lineup. Starr points to two seniors, Ysabel Schieb (SHA’14) and Madeleine Hackett (COM’14), who have been particularly “instrumental on the field this year. All of the captains do a great job leading this young team, but these two in particular are really great at setting the example, playing with confidence, and helping the young players develop.”
During a recent practice, Schieb and Hackett moved assuredly through passing drills, encouraging and directing the younger players into the right positions, all the while trying to keep the atmosphere loose. Both players recognize the importance of helping to mentor these underclassmen.
“As a senior on this team, I find it essential to be a good role model for the underclassmen and lead by example,” Schieb says. “It’s important to encourage the freshmen and help them gain confidence.”
Veteran midfielder Hackett says she’s been impressed by the freshmen. “The team has incredible chemistry this year,” she says. “The freshmen immediately fit in, and they are true team players. We’ve improved exponentially since the first day of preseason in August, and we’re thrilled to be entering Patriot League competition.”
Schieb says that having a home of its own has given the team a level of visibility and support it hasn’t had before, and that in turn has made the Terriers more competitive than ever. “We have a lot more support behind us when we play now,” she says. “It really drives us to protect ‘our house,’ and if we are able to host the finals on our new field, it would be our way of saying thank you to the athletics department for building such an incredible facility.”