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After missing last season because of a leg injury, Grace Boston (CAS’18) looks ready to make a serious impact on the field. Photos by BU Athletics
Fresh off an impressive road trip, the BU field hockey team will hit the turf at New Balance Field tonight for what’s sure to be an epic matchup with the Boston College Eagles, who are number 10 in the NCAA Field Hockey RPI. The number 19 Terriers (3-1, 0-0 Patriot League) are off to a hot start this season. They are looking to build upon the successes of last season, which brought them their first Patriot League title before they fell by one goal to Syracuse (the national runner-up) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
“It let the girls know how close they are to really being a Final Four type of team,” says Sally Starr, who is entering her 35th season as head coach this year.
That possibility is not lost on this year’s team, as all but one of last year’s starters are back for another season. Cammy Jensen (CAS’17) has stepped up to fill the void in goal after 2014 Patriot League Goalkeeper of the Year Valentina Cerda Eimbcke (Questrom’15) graduated in May.
“It’s a confidence-booster,” says cocaptain forward Sofi Laurito (COM’16). “It’s not a whole new team—it’s like the same team growing even more. We have six amazing freshmen. Everyone is way more confident, and we really believe that we can go far.”
That confidence and depth is evident on the field—the Terriers have already delivered three impressive wins in the young season. Patriot League experts are taking note: they named Laurito Patriot League Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, cocaptain defender Rachel Coll (Questrom’16) Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, and midfielder Hester van der Laan (ENG’17) Offensive Player of the Week for her impressive play in the squad’s first two games.
The Terriers started the season in fine form, taking down New Hampshire, 4-3, in a thrilling home contest as part of the Tri-Conference Cup on August 28. Later that weekend, however, UMass Amherst, then number 18, got the better of the Terriers, with the Minutewomen sneaking out of New Balance Field with a slim 2-1 victory.
That lone loss wasn’t enough to get the Terriers down. The team next trounced Hofstra, 6-3, in a neutral-site contest in Orono, Maine. Two days after that win, the Terriers were back at Orono to take down the hometown Maine Black Bears, 2-1, in overtime.
Terrier performance so far this year is a good indication of what to expect over the course of the season. While there is still work to be done, the Terriers have already demonstrated some of what makes them great.
“It was probably about 90, 95 degrees on the turf in Orono,” says Starr. “It was a really fast-paced game and kids were really getting tanked out on the field. We were able to get some fresh bodies on the field without dropping down in our ability at all. Our depth—and it’s across the board—is definitely a strength for us this year.”
Being able to draw on that depth and on the experience of so many seasoned players should serve the Terriers well tonight when they host the Eagles (3-1, 0-0 ACC) under the lights at New Balance Field.
“BC had a great win this weekend beating Maryland, which is the first time they’ve ever done that,” notes Starr. “We had an outstanding scrimmage against them about two weeks ago that ended in a tie. I’m really expecting an outstanding hockey game. It’s a Friday night game, it’s a home game, and an opportunity for us to play a really good team. After the success BC had this past weekend, their ranking is going to be even higher, so we’re looking forward to it.”
After taking on the Eagles, the Terriers will be back in action Sunday for a nonconference home matchup with Providence (0-4, 0-0 Big East). Conference play begins next Saturday at home against Lafayette (3-1, 0-0 Patriot League).
The weeks ahead will see the Terriers take on a series of tough competitors, including number 12 Wake Forest, number 4 Duke, number 3 Syracuse, and number 1 Connecticut, but the players say they are undaunted.
“A Patriot League championship is first on our list,” says Coll. “Also an NCAA bid. We’re really looking to get to at least the Elite Eight this year.”
The BU field hockey team takes on Boston College tonight, Friday, September 11, at 7 p.m. at New Balance Field, 286 Babcock St. The team will host Providence at 1 p.m. on Sunday, September 13, also at New Balance Field. All games are free and open to the public.
Zach Waller can be reached at [email protected].
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It’s on to Patriot League Semifinals for Men’s Basketball Terriers will face Bucknell Sunday in Pennsylvania
The BU men’s basketball team began the 2023-18 season in shambles: Kyle Foreman (CAS’19) and walk-on Brandon Johnson had left the team, and although the late addition of Andrew Petcash (CAS’21) filled out the 13-man roster, losing a starting point guard is tough for any team to overcome.
After playing in just two games, guards Cheddi Mosely (CGS’16, SHA’18) and Destin Barnes (CGS’18) lost the rest of the season—Mosely with a knee and Barnes with a shoulder injury. And Nick Havener (COM’17,’19) ended up with a labral tear to his right shoulder after playing Harvard in the last nonconference game of the season, which dogged him until season’s end.
So it was no surprise that the Terriers got off to a slow start: a 4-7 record in nonconference play. But along the way, they were building a positive team culture that would stand them in good stead by the time conference play began.
“This is easily the most enjoyable season I’ve had—the best team I’ve coached in terms of them being a true team and trying to play the right way,” Jones says. “I got no attitude, no drama, just guys out here trying to play the right way.”
It’s a season that saw underclassmen step up. Tyler Scanlon (CAS’20), Javante McCoy (CGS’19), who had 21 points in the quarterfinal win over Lehigh, and Walter Whyte (CGS’19) demonstrated strong play as starters, combining for 31.6 points per game and leading the team in 3-point percentage. The talented freshman class lived up to its hype and the sophomore class only got better. But if asked to select one player who’s stood out all season, Max Mahoney (Questrom’20) would have to be the hands-down choice.
Mahoney points to recent graduate Justin Alston (CGS’14, SHA’16, MET’17) as his inspiration. “Justin was somebody I looked up to,” he says. “We were always in the gym together, working out, going at each other every day at practice. And then when he left, there was a role to fill, so I tried to step up and do it myself.”
Led by fifth-year guard Cedric Hankerson (Questrom’16, MET’18), the Terriers began conference play with a 7-2 record. But Hankerson was hurt in a January win over Navy, forcing him to be out of play for three weeks. His absence, along with Whyte, who had to sit out four games with an injured leg, sent the Terriers into a skid. After losing their first five games last month, the team wound up as fifth seed.
Players consider that losing streak a defining moment that forced them to begin relying more on one another for success.
“We’ve just shown that we could beat any team when we play together,” McCoy says. “We’ve also shown that we can lose to anybody. It’s a real eye-opener that we need to stay on top of things, and we can’t take games for granted. We need to play together.”
“It was definitely a reality check and a wake-up call for all of us,” says Eric Johnson (COM’17, MET’18). “Hopefully, we’ll be strong enough to endure in the tournament.
A turning point came when Whyte returned to the court on February 21 for the final two regular season games—both wins for BU. Now, with a healthy roster, players feel good about their shot at a conference title.
“I’m excited,” McCoy says. “I know that when we all have each other, and we play together with the right mind-set, we’re unstoppable, so I feel confident.”
The players all agree that after overcoming so many setbacks, a title would would be especially meaningful.
“The coaching staff, they deserve it. My fellow seniors, we deserve it,” Johnson says. “We’ve put in a lot of work, so to see that come together and win the Patriot League would mean the world.”
Jonathan Chang can be reached at [email protected].
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Golf Team Swings for Second Patriot League Championship Terriers hope to use strong spring season to get back on top
Adela Cejnarova (CAS’17), the undisputed leader and only senior on the six-woman BU golf team, will be out to defend her back-to-back individual Patriot League titles at this weekend’s league tournament.
When the BU golf team travels to Pennsylvania this weekend for the Patriot League Women’s Golf Championship, it’s with the hope of repeating the 2024 season finale: a conference title, the team’s first.
Hosted by Lehigh, the tournament will be played over two days at the Saucon Valley Country Club in Bethlehem, with the schools golfing 36 holes tomorrow, Saturday, April 22, and another 18 holes Sunday.
The Terriers mean to use their strong spring season to launch themselves back onto the top of the podium after a runner-up finish last season.
“I’m very confident in this team,” says Adela Cejnarova (CAS’17), who as the only senior has led the Terriers all season. “We have worked hard, and we’re at a good place to play really well.”
Cejnarova will soon close out what has been a remarkable Terrier career. As a freshman in 2014, the Czech Republic native took home the Patriot League Rookie of the Year award. In both sophomore and junior seasons, she earned league individual titles and Golfer of the Year honors.
She’s playing the best golf of her career this season, she says. “I’m consistently playing really well this year. I just enjoy playing with the team and seeing the results.”
The Terriers spent the winter training to improve on a slow fall season that saw them finish no better than sixth in any tournament. The results paid off. The team set back-to-back 54-hole program records this spring, shooting a combined 898 in a second-place finish at Stetson University’s Babs Steffens Invitational in late March, then breaking that record the next week by shooting an 896 in another runner-up finish, at the Harvard Invitational in Sarasota, Fla. To round out regular-season play, BU carded a 302 in an 18-hole competition hosted by Yale to tie the Bulldogs for first last Sunday.
In the Harvard Invitational, Cejnarova says, “we finished only one shot behind Princeton. Last year, playing the same as Princeton was unimaginable. It was really great to have those tournaments to know that we can do it and we can win against really good teams.”
“We’re a good driving team. We drive the ball solid, we drive it straight, and we have good length,” head coach Bruce Chalas says. “The girls catch the ball solid a lot, there are good fundamentals throughout the lineup, and we’re a good putting team.”
The strong team finishes reflect a measure of depth up and down a young lineup that besides Cejnarova features three freshmen, a sophomore, and a junior: Abby Parsons (CGS’18), Saeros Oskarsdottir (CGS’18), Zhangcheng Guo (CGS’18), Megan Carter (CGS’17), and Phyllis Tang (CGS’16, SAR’18).
In addition to its youth, the team is unique in its multicultural makeup. Tang hails from Hong Kong, Guo from Beijing, and Oskarsdottir from Iceland.
Players say that international breadth has been a strength this season. “It definitely affects the culture, but I think in a good way,” Cejnarova says. “Everyone brings something else, and we are able to respect each other and to be friends and be teammates even though we are from totally different cultures. You have different insights and different inputs. If you just had a team from one country, you probably wouldn’t see those other things. We can learn a lot from each other.”
Chalas says Cejnarova’s contribution to the team is immeasurably more than the number of trophies she’s amassed. “She came here with a lot of playing experience, she’s well-organized, and she has a lot of drive,” he says. “She’s clearly taught the team how to win and what it needs to do to prepare. She’s played an invaluable role in establishing the team culture.”
That culture, he says, is very simple: “Prepare to practice and prepare to win.”
As for what it will take for the Terriers to find themselves posing with another Patriot League trophy, Chalas has another simple answer.
“Shoot the lowest score.”
The BU golf team plays in the Patriot League Women’s Golf Championship tomorrow, Saturday, April 22, at Saucon Valley Country Club in Bethlehem, Pa. The 54-hole tournament will conclude Sunday, April 23, with the winner earning a bid to an NCAA Regional Tournament.
Taylor Raglin can be reached at [email protected].
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Field Hockey Aiming for a Return to the Top Terriers launch conference play tomorrow as they host Lafayette
The 2023 BU field hockey team has nine freshmen, nearly half the roster.
When the BU field hockey team fell to American 1-0 in last season’s Patriot League championship game, the upset was devastating. Led by the league’s 2023 Offensive Player of the Year Hester van der Laan (ENG’17) and Defensive Player of the Year Ellie Landsman (Questrom’17), the Terriers had dominated the league during the regular season and were coming off two consecutive conference championships and NCAA appearances. As they begin conference play tomorrow, the sting of that loss remains vivid.
“It’s a new season. It’s a different team,” says Ally Hammel (CGS’17, Sargent’19), “but we all know. We all know that feeling, and we all don’t want to ever feel that way again.”
“We talked about acting like champions,” says Hammel, the 2023 Patriot League Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. “Every day, we go out and practice like champions because we know we want to be in that game.”
The season is long, however, and the Terriers must first take a series of smaller steps to have a shot at a national title says team captain Grace Boston (CAS’18, Sargent’18).
“It’s important to know that our end goal is to be in the national championship game, but…our main focus right now is making sure we get those Patriot League wins in the regular season to put us in a good spot to be hosting the championship and win it,” she says.
Among the challenges the team faces: replacing an elite senior class that had five All-Conference Team players. There are nine freshmen on this season’s lineup, nearly half of the 21-player roster. But head coach Sally Starr believes the team is not only determined, but also capable.
“We’re a young team, but we feel we really have a lot of talent. Our goal and expectations are to just work hard and get better every practice, get better every game, and come November, to really compete for our conference championship,” says Starr, who is entering her 37th season at the program helm. “When we recruit, we recruit not just to be the best team in New England. We really want to be a legitimate Elite Eight, Final Four type of team year in and year out, similar to our men’s ice hockey program.”
In early season play the freshmen have exceeded expectations. They’ve been responsible for 8 of the team’s 13 goals, with Ailsa Connolly (CGS’19) and Miya Denison (CGS’19) leading the team with three goals and six points each.
Players attribute the freshmen’s success to the team’s chemistry. “Every player has different tactical skill levels, but we do well bringing out the best skill in each player and each other,” Boston says. “Working each other’s strengths and realizing that we need to utilize each other are what our team’s really good at.”
Starr knows the importance of team culture and had worried that this season’s major roster overhaul could damage the team’s chemistry. She credits the veterans for bringing everyone together.
“That was definitely a big question mark in the summer and a focal point for us in the preseason: to create a positive team culture, where these guys know each other, love each other, will fight for each other on the field, compete hard in practice, and just really help each other so they can be the best they can be,” she says. “I have to congratulate our upperclassmen, our captains, for creating that type of culture.”
“From the freshmen up, people are voicing their opinion,” says Boston, “which is a really great atmosphere for us to have because every person on our team has valuable information.”
That communication will be crucial tomorrow as the team looks to end a three-game skid and begins conference play.
“We want to prove that we’re still the best team in the Patriot League,” Boston says.
Jonathan Chang can be reached at [email protected].
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BU Men’s, Women’s Lacrosse Host Patriot League Season Home Openers Saturday Doubleheader begins at noon on Nickerson Field
As a senior, Emma Pfaff (Sargent’22) has seen two seasons of play disrupted by the COVID pandemic. Photo by Tim Carey
LacrosseBU Men’s, Women’s Lacrosse Host Patriot League Season Home Openers Saturday Doubleheader begins at noon on Nickerson Field
No matter the temperature, the start of lacrosse season is always a welcome sign of spring.
“I think we’re just really excited to be together and be back out on the field,” Emma Pfaff (Sargent’22) says.
Patriot League action returns to Nickerson Field Saturday, March 12, when the Terriers host a home-opening doubleheader. The women’s team will play Army at noon, and the men’s team will take on Bucknell at 4 pm.
Men’s lacrosse attacker Timmy Ley (COM’22) says his team has been steadily preparing for the launch of conference play: “Our number-one goal is a Patriot League championship, and we work hard every day to get to that.”
The road won’t be easy. On the women’s side, conference foes Loyola Maryland and Navy currently rank among the top 25 teams in the nation, according to the Inside Lacrosse weekly poll. As for the men, Army and BU—currently 16th—both place within the Inside Lacrosse Top 20.
“The conference is as good as ever. If you don’t bring your Saturday’s best, you go home with a loss,” men’s team head coach Ryan Polley says. “We’re excited to start conference play and start to see how we stack up against some of the country’s best.”
Men’s lacrosse attacker Timmy Ley (COM’22) has scored at least one goal in every game since midway through his freshman season in 2023. Photo by Brian Foley
“Our formula has been to get better every week, and I think we’ve been able to do that consistently over the whole season,” Polley says. “It started in the fall with a lot of work on our culture, and then it’s definitely rolled over to our spring.”
There are 30 upperclassmen on the men’s roster this season—a group that saw their 2023 season cut short by COVID-19 and last year’s season shortened by the ongoing pandemic. Ley says team chemistry has helped the program adapt to all the challenges.
“I think we have a great group of guys who really care about each other and love each other,” Ley says. “We’ve been together for a while, and we’ve gone through a lot together.”
Four games in, all of the team’s statistical leaders are juniors and seniors. Ley and Vince D’Alto (COM’23) are tied for the most goals (12), and D’Alto shares the highest mark in assists (10) with Louis Perfetto (Questrom’23). Off-season transfer and face-off specialist Conor Calderone (CAS’23) has earned a team-high 22 ground balls, and goaltender Matt Garber (Questrom’22) holds the lowest goals-against average in the league, at 7.99.
Garber’s success is a particular point of pride for the program. Since the team’s launch in 2014, the BU net has been defended by just three consistent starting goaltenders—a rare feat for a lacrosse team of any level. Garber is the most recent Terrier to command the crease on a regular basis.
“We’ve been very fortunate with our pipeline of goalies,” Polley says. “Knowing Matt’s back there as the final line of defense is important. He’s been unbelievable for us.”
Women’s head coach Lauren Morton (CAS’08) is equally complimentary of her first-choice goaltender, but for different reasons. In her first season of game action, Reilly Agres (Sargent’24) has demonstrated agility at learning on the job and growing with every game—qualities she shares with other players.
Ryan Polley, men’s lacrosse head coach, has helmed the team since it launched nearly a decade ago. Photo by Matt Woolverton
“I want us to keep getting better,” Morton says. “I want to be able to play smarter, use our experience, and ultimately just get better. I think that we’ve seen that thus far.”
“We certainly knew it was going to be a challenging start. We knew we wanted to play some tough competition, and really just get to learn a lot about ourselves,” she says. “As much as the results maybe haven’t been what we want them to be, we definitely are excited for where we can go from here.”
For many of BU’s younger players, this is their first near-normal season after the disruption the pandemic wrought last season. Pfaff says her teammates turned that barrier into a benefit. “Because of COVID, we had to learn how to become much more adaptable in situations,” she says. “I think that’s a big positive that came out of a not great situation.”
As Patriot League play begins, both teams will play every other conference member once before the playoffs begin in May.
“Conference is a whole new start,” Morton says. “The clock restarts.”
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