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Big Weekend for Women’s Soccer and Field Hockey

Both hosting Patriot League championship tournaments

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NCAA field hockey between Boston University and Duke

Rachel Coll (Questrom’16), cocaptain of the women’s field hockey team, was honored as the Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year. Photo by Rich Gagnon/BU Athletics

It’s been a spectacular season for both the BU women’s soccer and field hockey teams. In a span of just four hours on October 24, the two programs clinched Patriot League regular season titles. Number 16 field hockey won a 6-0 blowout against Bucknell University, while women’s soccer beat Army 2-0.

The teams host their respective Patriot League championship tournaments this weekend, and each enters as top seed. The semifinals of both tournaments are today, Friday, November 6, with field hockey taking on Bucknell at 11 a.m. on New Balance Field, and women’s soccer battling Loyola University Maryland at 4 p.m. on Nickerson Field.

Field hockey

The field hockey Terriers (12-6, 6-0-0 PL), with last year’s title under their belts, are after back-to-back Patriot League championships. The program has proven a formidable competitor since entering the league in 2013, losing just two conference games over the last three seasons.

Sally Starr, celebrating her 35th season as head coach, presides over a team dominant on both ends of the field—the Terriers not only led the Patriot League in goals per game, with 3.22, but they also yielded the fewest, allowing a stingy 1.94 goals per contest.

“I just think we have a lot of talent on the field,” says Starr, named the 2015 Patriot League Coach of the Year this week; she is 11th all-time in career wins among college field hockey coaches. “We have kids that have worked hard and have played really well together. I think you need to be a cohesive unit to score goals. We’re scoring a lot of goals on corners as well as on field goals. I think on the defense, it’s the same thing: you need to be a cohesive unit, and you need to defend well individually and also collectively as a group. And I think this team has done everything very well.”

Rachel Coll (Questrom’16) was recently named Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year and Sofi Laurito (CGS’14, COM’16) Offensive Player of the Year. Laurito is tied for second in the league in goals per game, scoring 11 times in 18 games, 5 of them game-winners, the most in the Patriot League. Coll leads a robust defense, allowing the Terriers to record a league-high four shutouts. Cocaptains Coll and Laurito, along with Hester van der Laan (ENG’17), were unanimously selected for the All-Patriot League First Team.

The Terriers are one of only two Patriot League teams to post a positive scoring margin. Coll knows what it will take for the Terriers to make a deep postseason run. “I think we just need to keep getting better and better with each game that we play and with each practice. It’s important for us to stay consistent as well; we’re definitely, I think, having better first-halves at the moment than second-halves. So, if we can put it all together, I think we’ll be all right.”

Women’s soccer
Boston University BU Women's Soccer

Clare Pleuler (SAR’16), women’s soccer cocaptain, says the team has been focusing on defending in the forward and middle third of the field this season. Photo by BU Athletics

The (10-5-3, 8-0-1 PL) women’s soccer team is seeking its third consecutive Patriot League title. Entering the tournament with 10 players named to 2015 All-Patriot League teams, the Terriers claimed three of the four league Player of the Year awards: preseason favorite McKenzie Hollenbaugh (CGS’14, SHA’16), Defender of the Year, Alyssa Parisi (COM’16), Goalkeeper of the Year, and forward McKenna Doyle (Questrom’19), Rookie of the Year. On Wednesday Parisi was also named Patriot League Corvias Women’s Soccer Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

“It’s tough coaching so much talent, because you have so many expectations. But I love it, and when you have a group out there that can really produce night in and night out, you can’t ask for much more,” says head coach Nancy Feldman. “We just need to keep doing what we’ve been doing, working hard, maintaining control. We have a lot of talent, but talent won’t always win you games.”

Hollenbaugh and Parisi lead a strong defense. Allowing 12 goals in 18 games, Parisi leads the Patriot League in goals against average. She currently has a five-game shutout streak going. Hollenbaugh and her crew allowed just 29 shots on net through the nine-game conference schedule. As a team, the Terriers have not allowed a goal since October 6—475 minutes and counting.

“It’s awesome knowing that we have such a strong backline and a strong keeper,” says cocaptain Jenna Fisher (CGS’14, SAR’16). “And, more so these past few games, we’ve been trying to defend more in the forward and midfield halves, just so we can keep more of the territory. But our backline has been solid all season, and it makes us more confident as a team.”

“We really stress defending as a unit,” says cocaptain Clare Pleuler (SAR’16). “I think it starts from the forwards and the midfield, and like Jenna said, we’ve really been focusing on defending in the forward and the middle third of the field. And I think that translates down and makes us even more comfortable. As we play, we kind of have more freedom, knowing that we have such a strong backline and Aly in the goal.”

The BU field hockey team takes on Bucknell University in the Patriot League semifinals today, Friday, November 6, at 11 a.m., at New Balance Field, 286 Babcock St.; a free breakfast starts at 10:15 a.m. The winner will face the winner of Friday’s American University–Lafayette College matchup, being played at New Balance, at 2 p.m., in the Patriot League final on Saturday, November 7, at 2 p.m., at New Balance. All games are free and open to the public.

The BU women’s soccer team meets Loyola University Maryland in the Patriot League semifinals today, Friday, November 6, at 4 p.m., at Nickerson Field, 285 Babcock St. Free pizza will be provided at 3:30 p.m. The winner will face the winner of Friday’s semifinal matchup between Bucknell University and Navy, being played at Nickerson, at 7 p.m., in the Patriot League final Sunday, November 8, at 1 p.m., at Nickerson. Tickets are $5 for adults, $3 for students/youth, $2 for faculty and staff, and free for BU students.

All  games will be broadcast live on the Patriot League network.

Emmanuel Gomez can be reached at mannygo@bu.edu.

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