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First Playoff Berth on the Line for Men’s Lacrosse

Terriers host Loyola Maryland Saturday at second Lax-a-Palooza

Although the BU men’s lacrosse Terriers won 9 of their first 10 games, setting a program record for wins, their biggest hurdle lies ahead. The four-year-old varsity program, now playing with its first full senior class, currently sits in third place in the Patriot League with a 3-3 conference record (9-3 overall) and needs one more victory to secure its first-ever berth in the league’s playoffs.

The team’s first opportunity is this Saturday, April 15, when it hosts Loyola Maryland at Nickerson Field, where BU is 4-1 this season. The Terriers will also be home for their final regular season conference game, when they host Holy Cross on April 21.

Head coach Ryan Polley says his message has remained consistent throughout this year’s campaign.

“We’ve got to not focus on the result and focus on our process,” he says. “Everybody gets so caught up in: you’ve got to get one more game, you’ve got to win, you’ve got to get in. I think if we just play well in these last two conference games, it’s going to take care of itself.”

The Terriers have dropped their last two contests, both on the road. After a 10-6 defeat at the hands of Lehigh that Polley considers his squad’s worst game of the season, BU stayed on the road for a matchup with first-place Army.

What followed was a one-goal heartbreaker, as the Black Knights scored twice in less than a minute to turn a 10-9 Terrier lead into their first back-to-back loss.

The setback, Polley says, was actually a building block for a team looking to seal the deal. “We took a big step after playing probably our poorest game of the season against Lehigh, really rebounding and coming out and playing a good game,” he says. “We just came up a little bit short against a top-five team. It’s really about the process and us getting better.”

Ryan Johnston (CGS’15, CAS’17) says the players count on their defense to jump-start them to play the kind of game that’s made them successful this season.

Henry Lee has 3 points in 12 games for the Terriers this season. Lee and the rest of the program’s first senior class will play their last two regular-season Patriot League matchups on Nickerson Field, on April 15 and 21.

Henry Lee (CGS’15, CAS’17) has 3 points in 12 games for the Terriers this season. Lee and the rest of the program’s first senior class will play their last two regular-season Patriot League matchups on Nickerson Field, on April 15 and 21. Photo by Larry French

“If there’s one thing that stands out,” he says, “it’s our defense. We’ve got one of the best goalies in the country, and I think we’ve also got a defense that’s top-five in the country. When they’re playing well and our offense can feed off of them and they’re making the stops they’re supposed to and bailing us out, it gives our offense a little more confidence.”

That offense has been led by Cal Dearth (SHA’17) and Jack Wilson (Questrom’18), tied for team lead in goals, with 23 each. Johnston says BU’s scoring depth has played a major role in what has already been the most successful season in the program’s short history.

“I think it speaks volumes to the kind of talent we’re able to get now in just our fourth year,” he says. “It also speaks volumes about the guys putting in the work at practice every day. There are a lot of guys that maybe haven’t touched the field yet that are just as good as anyone out there.”

That depth has Henry Lee (CGS’15, CAS’17) excited for what the future holds for BU. “Every class is contributing, which is awesome. With some of our most talented players, there are guys right behind them who could start at any other school at their position and they’re sticking around,” Lee says. “I think there are going to be a lot of new faces making names for themselves, which is going to be great for the program. I’m pumped to leave behind the legacy that we have so far.”

Heading into this weekend’s game, however, the focus is on the 17-man senior class.

“It’s been a special group,” says Polley. “They started everything. They’re the foundation, and they’ve built a really strong one. It’s going to be sad to see them go. They’ve meant so much to the program from their play on the field to setting the culture off the field.”

The BU men’s lacrosse team hosts Loyola Maryland this Saturday, April 15, at Nickerson Field, 285 Babcock St. The game, set to get under way at noon, and the women’s lacrosse game against Navy, at 2:30 p.m., also at Nickerson, will be part of the program’s second Lax-a-Palooza, a free barbecue for BU students, with lawn games (cornhole and more) and giveaways, sponsored by the BU Off-Campus Council, the Residence Hall Association, and both lacrosse teams. Tickets are free for students with a sports pass, $5 for the general public, and $3 for groups of 10 or more. One ticket provides access to both games.

Taylor Raglin can be reached at traglin@bu.edu.

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