BU Today


Both BU Lacrosse Teams Going for Turnarounds

Terrier women vs Harvard tonight, men vs Army Saturday, both at home

  • The 2018 BU lacrosse season has been inconsistent for both men and women
  • After the season’s first home win, the lacrosse women host Harvard tonight 
  • The men’s final home game of the season is Saturday, against Army

Both BU lacrosse teams, men (5-6) and women (3-6), have had up-and-down 2018 seasons. Fresh off losses last Saturday (the women fell to Loyola Maryland 18-11 in the third annual Lax-A-Palooza, the men were edged by Lehigh 7-6), they are hoping for a rebound this week. First up are the Terrier women, who host Harvard tonight. Then it’s the men, ending their season’s home games against Patriot League opponent Army on Saturday.

Women’s lacrosse

The women’s 3-6 record (1-3 Patriot League) suggests a struggling team, and that struggle is partly because of a tough opening schedule—three of the season’s first four games were against ranked teams. And they’ll finish the regular season on April 28 against another formidable opponent when they take on Navy, currently tops in the Patriot League and ranked 12th in the country.

Head coach Liz Robertshaw attributes part of the team’s inconsistency to its youth. The Terriers added 10 freshmen to the roster this season. “I still think there’s another level of play that we’d like to get them to in this freshman year, and some players are seeing it faster than others, and that’s normal. But I will say, they come out, they’re working hard, and they’re really trying their best every day. We just need to keep pushing them to get even more from them.”

The team’s upperclassmen have also been impressed by the novice players’ work ethic. “They see upperclassmen playing on the field, and they want those spots,” says captain Avery Donahoe (CGS’16, COM’18). “They’re the type of freshmen that will go out and do the extra work on their own so they can try to get that.”

And that ambition has had an effect on the veterans as well. “They set the bar high, so they’re pushing us to be better and try to hold our spots,” Kaitlin Belval (SHA’19) adds. “It’s constant competition, which I think is great.”

Heading into tonight’s game against Harvard, Robertshaw says, her Terriers have to focus on point production. Offense has undoubtedly been a weakness this season: nine games into the season, just two players have scored more than 15 points.

Those two—Donahoe and Kailey Conry (CGS’18)—have been great role models. As captain, Donahoe has led the Terriers with 21 goals. “Avery is someone who sets the pace of play. She plays aggressively. She plays fast. She’s vocal and talks to her teammates a ton and pumps them up,” Robertshaw says.

Kailey Conry

Kailey Conry (CGS’18), the team’s best offensive producer, has been added to the 2018 Women’s Watch List for the Tewaaraton Award, given annually to the top female and top male lacrosse player in the nation.

The team’s scoring title belongs to Conry, who ranked second in assists last season en route to setting the BU single season record in assists (54). With her field vision and intuition, she is a viable threat to any opponent. “She just sees things before others see it,” Robertshaw says. “We all tend to forget that she’s just a sophomore. At times, we hold her to the level we hold Avery, who’s a senior. I don’t know if that’s always fair, but her game has pushed us to do that.”

Conry was added last week to the 2018 Women’s Watch List for the Tewaaraton Award, presented annually to the country’s top male and top female college lacrosse player. Winners will be announced May 31.

Robertshaw says her current team stands out for its never-say-die attitude: “We’ve taken some tough losses, and each time, they’ve rebounded really well. They’ve been thoughtful about what changes they can make, about how they can get better and actively try to improve.”

As an example, she points to the team’s most recent win, against Lafayette on March 24. Two games prior, the Terriers had won a hard-fought, double-overtime battle against Fairfield—a game Donahoe says they won “as a team for the team”—but an 8-15 defeat at the hands of Lehigh three days later was a crushing blow to morale. Just a week later, the Terriers picked themselves up, played an aggressive and fast-paced game, and claimed a 16-8 blowout against Lafayette.

With only seven games left in the regular season, the coach says the team can’t afford to take anything for granted. “Right now, you want to win every game,” she says. 

Men’s lacrosse

The fifth year in program history hasn’t been too kind to the men’s lacrosse Terriers. They began the season with a strong 4-2 record, but have struggled in Patriot League play (1-4) and now, 11 games into the season, are at a disappointing 5-6.

men’s lacrosse team

The men’s lacrosse Terriers hope to close out their regular season with a win Saturday when they face Army.

“Inconsistent,” says head coach Ryan Polley. “I think that’s probably the best way to describe it.”

Captain Jack Wilson (Questrom’18) says most of the team’s struggles are the same any program faces, including a change in personnel with the loss of several team members to graduation and players having to adjust to new roles. But in a conference as tough as the Patriot League, BU has been battling to play consistently.

“The Patriot League is a very competitive league, and every game’s a playoff game, so you have to come out and play a full 60 minutes,” Wilson says. “We’ve put together some good quarters, some good halves, and even stretches of three quarters, but we’re still trying to get to a full 60-minute game of playing our best lacrosse.”

Case in point: the Terriers loss Sunday to number 17 Lehigh. After outscoring the Mountain Hawks 4-1 in the third quarter to take a 6-5 lead, BU was scoreless in the fourth, but allowed two goals, losing 7-6.

But the Terriers have reason to be optimistic, especially in their offense. Goals leader James Burr (CAS’19, Questrom’19) currently averages 2.45 goals per game, a pace not too far from breaking the single season goals record of 38 held by Cal Dearth (CGS’15, SHA’17).

But deflecting attention from himself, Burr credits his success to his teammates: “It’s just a product of our team being really selfless and finding an open man whenever we can,” he says.

That selflessness has been the defining characteristic of the Terrier offense, Polley says, and it’s enabled them to pull together. “The guys are working hard to improve themselves individually, and I think they have a really good cohesiveness as a group,” he says. “They’re really unselfish. They don’t necessarily care who scores, and they’re always looking for one extra pass.”

Another bright spot is newcomer Chris Gray (CGS’19), arguably the best freshman in the country according to his coach, and the numbers bear that out.

Chris Gray

Chris Gray (CGS’19) has been sensational in his first season, leading the team with 49 points.

Gray’s 2.73 assists per game ranks 8th in the country, and his 4.45 points per game ranks 19th. His offensive prowess has been a result of his high lacrosse IQ, Polley says, and his teammates agree that the freshman has been the team’s most proficient offensive player.

Despite their uneven season, a shot at a Patriot League title isn’t out of the question. Polley says four wins could earn them a spot in the conference tournament, but that means winning all the remaining Patriot League games.

“We know that we’re in a bit of a pinch in terms of how many wins we need to get into the tournament,” Burr says. “I wouldn’t say it’s desperation, but we’re just playing with urgency.”

Wilson says the Terriers know they have to work harder than their opponents. “The identity we strive to have is to be a hard-nosed team that outworks teams,” he says. “We do have skills, but at the same time, everyone has athletes, so it’s important to go out there and play as hard as you possibly can. If you’re going to make a mistake, make a mistake going 100 miles per hour. That’s what we’ve been focusing on: outworking teams.”

“Every game is a must-win,” Polley says.

The BU women’s lacrosse team takes on Harvard tonight, Wednesday, April 4, at 7 pm, at Nickerson Field, 285 Babcock St. Tickets are free for students with a sports pass, $5 for faculty, staff, and students without a sports pass, and $8 for the general public.

The BU men’s lacrosse team hosts Army on Saturday, April 7, at 3:15 pm, at Nickerson Field, 285 Babcock St. Tickets are free for students with a sports pass, $5 for faculty, staff, and students without a sports pass, and $8 for the general public.

Jonathan Chang can be reached at jchang19@bu.edu.

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