(Photo Courtesy of Boston U. Athletics)
Welcome to the Fall Snapshot series. Throughout the fall I will be taking an early look at all 75 DI men’s college lacrosse teams and giving a snapshot of where each is heading into the 2023 season.
Head Coach: Ryan Polley (10th season, 2014-Current)
Boston U. 2022 Record: 12-5 (7-1 Patriot League)
Key Departures: N/A
Key Returners: Vince D’Alto (A), Timmy Ley (A), Louis Perfetto (A), Jake Cates (M), Matt Hillburn (M), Conor Calderone (FO), Roy Meyer (LSM/D), Dane DeGoler (D), Patrick Morrison (D), Matt Garber (G)
Transfer Additions: Brenden Kelly (A, Penn State), Brody Firestein (M, Penn State)
This past spring marked the best season for Ryan Polley and the Boston U. Terriers in the program’s 10-year history. After continuing to come up short in the postseason year after year, the Terriers finally broke through to win the Patriot League and make the program’s first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance.
Ending the season with a 12-5 record, Boston U. survived through all but four teams: Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and Army. All four finished the season in the top 20 with Princeton being in the top three and Yale being in the top 10. Army was the only one of those teams who failed to make the NCAA Tournament, falling to the Terriers in the Patriot League title game. Boston U. failed to also get revenge against Princeton in the first round of the NCAAs as the Tigers topped the Terriers 12-5.
Heading into the 2023 season, the Terriers return a boatload of talent and will be looking to defend their Patriot League title and make it even deeper into May.
How Deep Can The Terriers Go?
One of my own questions about this team last season was their potential depth issues. The Terriers had a very solid a very good starting attack line, a solid close defense, featured a really good goalie in Matt Garber, and Conor Calderon ended up being the answer they needed at the faceoff dot. And for most of the season, those players proved to be enough to carry the Terriers through.
A pair of injuries to a few top-tier players did hit eventually hit Boston U. last spring. First, Patrick Morrison missed four games late in the season (Yale, Princeton, Loyola, Lehigh) and didn’t start in the regular season finale against Army. Roy Meyer moved from LSM to close for the Princeton, Loyola, Lehigh, and Army games. Secondly, the Terriers’s top midfielder Jake Cates (21G/8A) went down with a season-ending ACL tear in the first half of the Princeton game. Matt Hillburn, who will also be back for a fifth-season, slid into that starting spot and was productive late; having two goals apiece in the Patriot League semifinal and title game. The Terriers had the bodies to fill those holes and did show off their depth down the stretch, and especially so on the offensive end.
With nearly all its top-tier assets back in 2023, Boston U. will be leaning on those players very heavily once again. That is especially true at the attack spot where Vince D’Alto (45G/30A), Timmy Ley (43G/31A), and Louis Perfetto (30G/35A) combined for 214 points and 118 goals last season. The Terriers will likely need to create more depth and production on a consistent basis and especially so if they want to up their standing nationally from a year ago.
Can The BU Ride Continue to Progress?
One of the hallmarks of this Boston U. team last season was its ride, and in particular the frequency in which they pulled out the 10-man ride and the effectiveness that came with it. Boston U. held their opponents to a 303-for-391 (77.5%) mark in the clearing game last spring, causing a good amount of trouble for their opponents.
The Terriers had eight performances in which they held their opponent under 80% in the clearing game. Twice (Bryant, Army) the Terriers held the opposition under 70%. One of those instances came during the Patriot League title game in which the BU ride held Army to 68% in the clearing game on the day and 50% in the second half alone. It was the Terriers’ best performance of the season in the riding game.
Boston U. has improved each of the past three seasons in the riding game. Their holding opponents to 77.5% in the clear was an improvement from 79.5% in 2021. During their six games in 2020, the Terriers held their opponents to 84.3% in the clearing game. Can that trend continue to move upwards in 2023?
Will The Turnover Situation Improve?
Boston U. was solid all around last season and either above or well above average in most statistical categories. One of the few areas where the Terriers were near the bottom of DI, however, was in turnovers.
The Terriers ended the season with the 23rd best scoring offense in college lacrosse, averaging 13.29 goals per game, while also having the 27th best team shooting percentage (30%) and being a top-15 team in assists per game (8.18). But when it comes to turnovers per game, the ball movement-reliant Terriers ended the year 65th in DI with an average of 18.76 turnovers a contest. And they ended the season with the most total turnovers in DI with: 319. For reference, they only had 46 more points (365) than turnovers. 145 of those turnovers came from the Terriers’ top six scorers.
The turnover issue didn’t impact the Terriers too much last season in terms of overall success. But it is certainly the one area in which this team needs to improve the most from 2022 to 2023.
Potential Breakout Player
Thomas Niedringhaus, Midfield, Senior
Seeing action in all 17 games as a reserve, the St. Louis native was sparingly productive throughout the season, ending the year with 10 goals and two assists for 12 points. His best stretch came in April where he tallied seven goals in four games. He had two goals against Lehigh before setting a new career-high with a hat trick the next week against Army.
Boston U. brings in 13 players with its 2022 recruiting class. Deerfield (Mass.) midfielder Cole Van Meter helps headline the class. A strong outside shooter, he is rated as four-star by Inside Lacrosse.