Field Hockey Terriers Off to Winning Start
Reigning Patriot League champs host Maine Friday
Since joining the Patriot League three years ago, the BU women’s field hockey team has made it to the league championship game each year, winning the last two and advancing last season to the NCAA tournament. Despite that success, the 13th-ranked Terriers, the preseason favorite to clinch a third consecutive Patriot League title, remain dissatisfied.
“We’re definitely not pleased,” says tri-captain Amanda Cassera (SAR’17). “One of our biggest concentrations this season is winning our out-of-conference games—getting our RPI [ratings percentage index] up. This way we can face someone a bit lower ranked in the NCAA first round. And if we get to the elite eight, we know anything can happen.”
So far this season, indications are that the team could well return to the NCAA tournament. The undefeated Terriers opened the season with an impressive 2-1 win over number 16 Northwestern University in the first round of the Wildcat Classic and two days later claimed the Wildcat Classic title, defeating the University of New Hampshire 4-3. They took down the Northeastern Huskies 2-1 in overtime in last Friday’s home opener. It was another one-goal win two days later, when the team defeated Miami University 2-1. All this with the loss of leading scorer and First Team All-American Sofi Laurito (COM’16) and Third Team All-American Rachel Coll (Questrom’16) to graduation last spring.
With the intent of extending their unbeaten streak to five, the team hosts the University of Maine tomorrow, Friday, September 9, at 4 p.m.
The squad of 18 Terriers returned 9 of last year’s top scorers. Cassera and Allie Renzi (Questrom’18) lead the offense so far this year, combining for 14 of the team’s 29 points. Cassera, a Preseason All-Patriot League teamer, has been especially impressive, tallying a goal in three of the four contests, including the game-winner against Northwestern.
The offensive play of Renzi and Cassera, as well as of tri-captain Hester van der Laan (ENG’17), the Patriot League Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, has resulted in the Terriers’ leading the conference in goals and assists per game, for the best offense in the league.
“We got a lot of veterans back this year and the scoring is across the board, which is a testament to our depth,” says head coach Sally Starr. “But we’re not happy. We know we can score more—we just need to be more disciplined and poised around the goal. And if we score more, it helps everyone, including our win total.”
On the defensive side, reigning Goalkeeper of the Week Cammy Jensen (CAS’17) has performed remarkably this season. Jensen is second in the league in save percentage and average goals allowed per game.
“We have a mantra, Fitter, faster, smarter, and she’s embodied that,” Starr says. “She’s in the best shape of her life and the results are showing. She hasn’t had to make a lot of saves, but some of the ones she’s made have been unbelievable. I’m really proud of how far she’s come.”
In front of Jensen is a sturdy defensive line, steered by midfielder Ellie Landsman (Questrom’17), one of the captains. A corecipient of the team’s Unsung Hero Award last year, Landsman is not only extremely skilled, but has a reputation for inspiring her teammates.
“Ellie has so much poise and confidence on the ball,” says Cassera. “She’s huge on both sides. She keeps everyone calm when we get a little frantic and gives us an extra spark when we’re lazy. She can get the ball up the field in a hurry, make a clutch score or a huge tackle. She does everything.”
Early successes notwithstanding, the Terriers know they face a tough schedule in the weeks ahead: 5 of their 17 regular-season opponents qualified for the 2015 NCAA tournament, and 2 of them have won the last three NCAA tournaments, Syracuse University in 2015 and the University of Connecticut in 2013 and 2014.
But the Terriers say they’re excited by the challenge and positive about their chances of advancing to the NCAA tournament.
“People might look at us as underdogs when it comes to the national tournament,” says Landsman. “But we feel really confident, especially with all the work we’ve put in this summer and last spring. We feel like it’s even, and on any given night, we can beat anyone.”
The Boston University field hockey team faces the University of Maine tomorrow, Friday, September 9, at 4 p.m., at New Balance Field, 286 Babcock St. Admission is free and open to the public. The Patriot League Network will broadcast the game live. Find the team’s 2016 schedule here.
Emmanuel Gomez can be reached at email@example.com.
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