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Field Hockey, Women’s Soccer Eliminated from NCAA Tournaments

Successful seasons for both teams end with road losses

BU’s field hockey and women’s soccer Terriers were both blanked 3-0 by familiar foes this weekend in their respective NCAA tournaments – losses that ended incredible seasons for the nationally ranked squads.

On Saturday the field hockey team dropped its first round match to UConn, a national power that beat BU 6-0 earlier this year. On Friday, the women’s soccer team came up short against Boston College, the same school that bounced BU from the tournament a year ago.

Field Hockey
At Princeton’s Class of 1952 Stadium, UConn scored all three of its goals in the first half, leaving BU in a hole it could never dig out of. The Terriers pressured the Huskies in the second stanza with six shots, but to no avail. BU finished the season ranked 20th in the nation and won its conference
title for the second year in a row.

Sarah Shute (SHA’08) played
her best field hockey in the
last month of the season.
Photo by Rob Klein

The 2006 edition of the BU field hockey team got off to a rocky start with a 2-4 record before the Terriers got in a groove and won five straight games, posting shutout victories over UMass and Northeastern. The team stumbled again, losing two of three, including a humbling 6-0 blanking at the hands of UConn on October 18. But then BU rolled over its next six opponents.

The Terriers’ last two victories, a 1-0 squeaker over Vermont on November 3 and a 4-1 win against the University of Maine two days later, were in the America East semifinal and final and propelled them into the NCAA tournament. The latter game was more of a nail-biter than the score indicates: it was tied 1-1 until midway through the second half, when BU exploded for three unanswered goals. “Our players took control of that game,” says coach Sally Starr. “They were calm, poised, and tenacious. A team with any other mentality could have panicked, but this one started playing its best hockey of the match at that point.”

Sarah Shute (SHA’08) scored what proved to be the game-winner against Maine, a feat she pulled off twice last year against the same team.  “Sarah is a ‘big game’ player,” says Starr. When the going gets tough, “she gets that look in her eye and does what she has to do.” She also lauds the play of Hayley Hamada (CAS’08), who scored against Maine and netted the only goal in the America East semifinal against Vermont. “She really came on strong at the end of the season,” Starr says. “It has been really exciting seeing her mature into her potential.”

This year’s conference title marks the sixth in the Terriers’ history and their second in a row: BU also victimized Maine in last year’s America East championship, 3-1. Shute scored two goals in that victory. “I’m proud of this team,” says Starr. “The players have been motivated and mature. They didn’t let the earlier loss to UConn get them down, and they played extremely smart hockey down the stretch.”

Women’s Soccer
In the first round of the NCAA tournament at Rutgers University, Boston College out shot the 13th-ranked Terriers, 16-4, scoring a trio of goals, keeping BU off the scoreboard, and avenging a 1-0 loss to BU in the season opener. Goaltender Stephanie Dreyer (CAS’07) came up with seven big saves against the Eagles, but the B.C. offense was too potent. 

Erica Lee (SMG’07), the heart
of the women’s soccer team
defense. Photo by Rob Klein

The women’s soccer Terriers were invited to the NCAA tournament despite being eliminated from the America East tournament in a semifinal loss to the University of Maine. BU would have grabbed an automatic bid to the national tournament by winning the conference title, but it received an at-large bid, thanks to an impressive 13-4-3 record and earlier victories against such national powers as Santa Clara University and Boston College. Those wins helped BU vault to an unprecedented number 10 national ranking in mid-September.

“We put ourselves in a great position with quality wins and a strong schedule,” says coach Nancy Feldman. “The at-large bid was a great achievement, in a funny sort of way.”

Of course, Feldman would rather have seen her team beat Maine in the playoffs and gone on to overcome eventual conference champion Hartford. But BU never got to the title match: Maine won the October 29 game, 2-0, on penalty kicks after both teams were knotted 0-0 in regulation. A week earlier, the Terriers had dropped a 1-0 decision to Hartford in their first conference loss of the year. “The last two weekends of October were disappointing, but this team is resilient,” Feldman says. “We got knocked down, but we picked ourselves right back up.”

The Terriers have appeared in five of the last seven NCAA tournaments. This year marked their first at-large bid. Feldman says the commitment of the team’s veteran players, along with the surprising surge of the freshman class, was behind the success of this year’s squad. “The freshmen know what it takes to get to the NCAA tournament,” she says. “It bodes well for the future.”

Brian Fitzgerald can be reached at bfitzger@bu.edu.