It was the worst of halves, it was the best of halves. That was the story of the Boston College women’s lacrosse team on Saturday against Ohio State. The most important thing in any sport, though, is the ability to finish strong. Despite a less-than-desirable start, BC was able to defend its home turf with a 9-7 victory over the Buckeyes.
On defense, BC looked sluggish at the get-go, as the Buckeyes scored on their first possession, less than 40 seconds into the game. By the time eight-and-a-half minutes had passed, OSU had taken a 3-0 lead. At that point, however, the Eagles became manic on defense. They didn’t give up a goal in the remaining 20 minutes and 30 seconds, forcing eight total turnovers in the first half. Although the Buckeyes were able to generate a few chances offensively, they were no longer able to continuously keep possession in the attacking zone. The Eagles did a good job keeping their sticks active, relentlessly hounding whichever OSU player had the ball. At a critical juncture of the game, BC was able to elevate its performance in order to keep itself in contention.
On the other end of the field, OSU’s defense completely stymied the Eagles’ offense in the first half, as BC only managed one goal on 11 shots as Ohio State goalie Tori DeScenza saved six of the seven shots on goal. Ohio State played an interesting style of defense, opting to condense its defenders around the crease and attacking area. This meant that, while BC was free to handle the ball outside the perimeter and behind the crease, any attempt to drive on net was instantly met with a wall of Buckeye defenders.
“They were running a really strong defense,” said head coach Acacia Walker after the game. “It felt a little unorthodox, so it was a little foreign to our girls.”
When BC was able to decipher the OSU defense, however, the tides began to turn.
The second half of the game went very differently from the first. This time, it was BC scoring three times in the first seven-and-a-half minutes of the half, taking a 4-3 lead. The scoring did not slow down. Both teams seemed to embrace the ideology that the best defense is a good offense, as both teams traded scoring streaks. BC’s offense was led by junior attacker Covie Stanwick, who managed to score six goals, all in the second half, to bring her season total up to seven. “I think as soon as we figured it out, we ran the right offense and the girls made the plays happen, and that’s what it takes to win,” Walker said.
The biggest difference, though, was the Eagles’ ability to finish. DeScenza was only able to make one save on nine shots, as BC began to find the back of the net with regularity. During a particularly clutch sequence, Stanwick scored three unassisted goals in 2:30 to turn a 5-4 OSU lead into a 7-5 BC advantage. When Ohio State scored twice more to tie the game with just 1:30 left in the game, it was time for the Eagles to answer the call. They needed a defensive stand to send it to overtime or a quick goal to put the team in position for the regulation win. Calling a timeout with BC entering the attacking zone, Walker drew up a play. Covie Stanwick passed to sophomore middie Sarah Mannelly.
Mannelly, who had already scored to open the second half, spun around a defender and fired low at the goal, scoring with just 18 seconds left in the game.
An encouraging sign, this game showcased the depth of scoring that BC possesses. Leading point scorer Mikaela Rix didn’t record a single point Saturday, though she was clearly a focal point of the OSU defensive scheme. With the outburst from Stanwick, though, the Eagles showed they are not just a one-woman team. Mannelly scored twice, sophomore Caroline Margolis scored BC’s first goal, and grad student Brooke Blue assisted on BC’s final goal. Through just three games, BC already has five players with at least five points.
Mannelly’s late goal certainly doesn’t erase the memories of an anemic first half, but it does assuage any fears that this is a team that can’t finish strong, even when faced with adversity. Not only did BC overcome its poor start, it was able to withstand a late charge from the Buckeyes to ensure that, at least until Wednesday when they take on No. 2 ranked Syracuse, this is the best of times.
Two days earlier, BC defeated New Hampshire at home, notching a 17-8 victory. In the first half, BC went up 6-1, then 9-4 by halftime, and then cruised the rest of the way. Rix and Blue tallied four goals each, with Rix adding two assists to lead the attack, while Mata made seven saves on 15 shots.
Scoring started quickly for BC, with senior attack Moira Barry finding the net just 1:45 in, and Blue following up less than a minute later. After a UNH goal cut the lead in half, BC proceeded to score four goals in under four minutes, and UNH would never really get close again.
BC is now 3-0-0 on the season.