The Boston University men’s lacrosse team will continue its Patriot League schedule on Saturday afternoon as the team hosts Lehigh on Saturday afternoon.
Lehigh has lost two games in a row, while the Terriers have surged forward, winning both of their games last week. BU has risen back into the national rankings, where is slots in as #20, after defeating the 14th ranked Harvard Crimson last week.
“Anytime there was a 50/50 groundball, we seemed to come up with it,” said BU head coach Ryan Polley. “Defensivley we had a good game plan and shut out what Lafayette was trying to do.”
The past few games have seen the Terriers roll out several lines, especially in the midfield, and allow players such as Michael Laviano to breakout. The freshman scored his first career goal, and first three points, against Lafayette last weekend.
“With that second and third line, what we really want is good possessions,” said Polley. “We certainly want to score, but its probably more important we retain the ball and don’t give the opponent an opportunity. That was the biggest thing with Mike, an adjustment to the division one game, and we preach ball retaining. He’s done a great job in practice really making better decisions and not forcing it, and realizing he doesn’t have to make a play every time he has the ball in his stick.”
Michael Carbone and Tristian Ruh are also beginning to see more time, and Chad Bell has seen regular shifts on the third midfield line.
BU was able to put up 16 goals on the Leopards, but the hallmark of the team has been a defense that is holding teams to under nine goals per game and forcing turnovers. Led by Dominick Calisto and Greg Wozniak, who each have caused 15 turnovers this season, BU’s defense has taken a step forward this season.
Sam Talkow’s .689 percentage at the faceoff X is fifth in the nation, and he was nearly flawless this week again against Lafayette, but Elliott Burr stepped up to be 10-for-11 as well to give Talkow a needed break in a blowout game. Sophomore Joe Stucky even took five draws, winning three of them.
Cal Dearth won the Patriot League player of the week award after a five goal and three assist performance across the two games last week. Since Dearth has been healthy, BU suffered just the one loss to Bucknell but has found an overall more successful offense.
“It’s a bit of both.” said Polley, as to if the third line is seeing more time due to resting players or if the third liners are stepping up. “We certainly knew at Harvard, we had a midweek game, and then a game on the weekend, so we wanted to make sure that coming back on the short turnaround from Bucknell we didn’t force anyone into the ground. We ran out the second line, and they did a really great job, give guys like Chad Bell an opportunity to make some plays. It’s their time to get a chance.”
Every time that the Terriers have faced Lehigh, one of the teams would be ranked. The Mountain Hawks, who won the past two contests against BU, were ranked inside of the top 20 in the past two seasons. This is the first time that BU will take on Lehigh as a ranked team.
Lehigh has dropped three of its last four games, including a loss to #12 Stony Brook in the middle of the week. The Mountain Hawks lost two of their best scorers from last season in Dan Taylor and Patrick Corbett, and their starting goalie, Matt Poillon. Freshman Tristian Rai has stepped up to lead the team with 23 goals, while Reid Weber has emerged as one of the team’s new leaders, as they expected. Adam Sawicki has kept the Mountain Hawks a hair under allowing ten goals per game at 9.99.
The Terriers still need a few more wins to clinch a spot in the Patriot League tournament, but things are looking positive for BU to make its conference field for the first time in the history of the program. At 3-1 against conference opponents, BU has already hit its win total from last season.