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Defending Patriot League Field Hockey Champs Out for a Repeat

Terriers go up against Colgate Saturday at home

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When Kiley Gallagher (CAS’20, Questrom’20) scored the game-winning overtime goal against number 9 Northwestern on September 9, it marked an important moment for the BU field hockey team. The players had long demonstrated they could hold their own against a top-10 competitor, but for the first time since BU posted a win over Virginia in 2014, they proved they could beat one of them too.

The moment was especially sweet, coming as it did on the heels of back-to-back losses to number 25 Maine and number 24 Ohio State. “Offensively, there wasn’t a lot of good coming out of that,” head coach Sally Starr says. “We did some okay things, but we definitely exposed some weaknesses, in particular in our passing game.”

The number 21 Terriers (5-3, 1-0 PL) will be looking to prove that their win over Northwestern was no fluke when they host conference foe Colgate Saturday at New Balance Field.

“We just want to keep getting better,” says Starr, who led the team to a Patriot League championship last season, the third in four years. “We’re all about, let’s enjoy the win on Sunday, let’s recover on Monday, and let’s get back to work on Tuesday to get better, to build on that.”

Starr’s squad has gone up against fellow Patriot League powerhouse American University and number 6 Penn State since the Northwestern win. The game against American ended in another overtime win, but Penn State trampled the Terriers, 4-0, in last Sunday’s game.

Ally Hammel on the field

Ally Hammel (CGS’17, Sargent’19) may become the first field hockey Terrier to be named a two-time First-Team All-American.

But Starr says that there are advantages to playing challenging foes so early in the season. It’s a way to identify the team’s strengths and weaknesses, to figure out what needs improving while there’s still time to do it. “I truly believe that to compete with the best, you’ve got to compete with the best,” she says, “and particularly in September, it can’t do anything but make you better.”

This season’s squad, which includes four freshmen, has worked hard at bonding together. “Every team aspires to be a family, and as I say to them, ‘I don’t expect you all to love each other. I would love it if you do, but at the minimum, I expect that you show respect to each other,’” Starr says. “But I do think right now that we have a team that does love each other.”

“We’re really happy to be out there,” cocaptain Allie Doggett (CGS’17, Questrom’19) says. “We’re just a really cohesive unit on and off the field, which I think makes a huge difference. Being close off the field means that once you step on the field, you don’t miss a beat.”

The underclassmen have been a pleasant surprise on the field this season: Ailsa Connolly (CGS’19) and Petra Hall (CAS’21) have been among the team’s leaders in points, while Casey Thompson (CAS’22) has been an instant spark off the bench. Spearheading the team is cocaptain Ally Hammel (CGS’17, Sargent’19), who became the first back in BU history to be named a First-Team All-American. She’s hoping that this year she’ll become the first Terrier to win the honor twice.

Saturday’s game against Colgate marks the season’s midpoint for the Terriers. And as they strive to capture their fourth championship in five years, they know the best way to do that is to simply keep getting better, week to week.

“Our goal is to just be better than the last game,” Starr says. “If we can be better than the Northwestern game, I think we can compete really well.”

The Boston University field hockey team takes on Colgate on Saturday, September 22, at noon, at New Balance Field, 286 Babcock St. Admission is free and open to the public. The Patriot League Network will broadcast the game live. 

Jonathan Chang can be reached at jchang19@bu.edu; follow him on twitter at @jonathanychang.

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