Projected Patriot League Standings
1. Boston University
5. Holy Cross
6. Army West Point
9. Loyola (MD)
Boston University again pushed themselves with a brutally difficult non-conference schedule last year and were only marginally better with than they were in 2016, where they lost their first nine. BU did manage to beat Northeastern and draw the two Arizona schools in the Pac-12, but this was still a program that needed to get into league play to truly hit its stride. The Terriers were more than solid in the Patriot League, but they did drop enough points to slip to third in the final table, forcing them into the quarterfinals of the conference tournament, where they topped Lafayette. But BU’s bogey team, Bucknell were waiting in the semi-final and beat them once again, the fourth straight loss the Terriers have suffered to Bucknell since beating them in the final of the 2015 Patriot League Tournament.
But after a few years that might be considered “rebuilding” seasons here, the Terriers look ready to roll towards silverware this season. While BU does lose four starters, their returning talent dwarfs that of most of the rest of the league. The biggest departure comes on defense, where center-back Rachel Bloznalis graduates after a fine career that culminated with a superb senior season. The offense isn’t unscathed though, as Christina Wakefield, who tied for most goals here last season with five, also graduates. Also gone are central midfielder Jesse Shreck (who led the team in assists with five) and Bloznalis’ center-back partner, Alivya Wimmer.
With little in the way of proven scoring back, this might be a BU side that rides with its defense. The club’s best returning player is likely defensive midfielder Julianna Chen, who has been a stalwart here for three seasons. Her partner in central midfield, Dorrie Varley-Barrett is also a standout, meaning BU’s central midfield could be one of their strongest areas this season.
The backline itself does have to replace both starting center-backs, as noted above, and BU will likely be banking on right-back Libby Closson to be the leader of the defense this season after a strong finish to last season. Unsurprisingly, BU’s gone big on defensive recruits in this class, with Kate Collins and Elle Conlin shortlisted as two to watch. In goal, Amanda Fay won the starting job in the middle of last season, but the sophomore could find her position under threat thanks to the addition of another top recruit, Morgan Messner.
The Terriers will likely be desperate for some improved offense, with nobody here netting more than five goals last year. Winger McKenna Doyle led the club in shots last season (41) but also netted just three goals, though she did net six as a rookie in 2015. The best hope may be for continued excellence from sophomore left-winger Anna Heilferty, who scored five goals as a rookie and even played a little left-back for the U.S. U19 team in some offseason friendlies.
Even with some losses, BU still looks to have their best team in a few years and should be favored to reach Patriot League glory this season. Continue reading