Spring, Lacrosse

Eagles Upset By Syracuse In First Round Of ACC Tournament

In the movie Buried, Paul Conroy—played by Ryan Reynolds—wakes up to find that he’s been placed in a coffin and buried alive somewhere in Iraq. He has no idea how he’s gotten there, armed with nothing but a Zippo lighter and a Blackberry. The movie is shot entirely inside the coffin, and follows as he uses everything at his disposal to try and escape.

The Boston College lacrosse team must’ve felt similarly claustrophobic to Paul Conroy when it suddenly found itself down 5-0 to the Syracuse Orange 16:17 into the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament. The Eagles had barely touched the ball, and without Mikaela Rix on the field, things looked grim for BC. The offense looked lost, and the defense looked downright porous.

This wasn’t an unfamiliar scene for the Eagles, however, who had made it a habit towards the end of the year to sleepwalk through the first part of the game before roaring back and winning.

The Eagles ended the first half with a small run, cutting Syracuse’s lead to two twice at 6-4 and 7-5, and went into halftime down 8-5 when Syracuse’s leading scorer, Kayla Treanor, netted a goal with under a minute and a half to go. Sarah Mannelly led the late surge for BC, scoring a hat trick in just over four minutes. Mannelly constantly slashed her way through Syracuse’s man defense, which had stifled BC’s movement in front of the crease.

Standing in the Eagles’ way all game long was Syracuse goalie Kelsey Richardson. In the first half alone, Richardson notched seven saves on BC’s 15 shots, an absurd save percentage, and one of the major reasons why Syracuse extended its lead so early and often.

In the second half, Mannelly scored twice more, but it was freshman two-sport athlete Kenzie Kent who took the reigns toward the end of the game, keeping BC in stride with the Orange. Syracuse took the lead three times in the final 15 minutes of the game, and three times Kent pulled the Eagles even. Syracuse could not stop the 5-foot-6 midfielder, who spun, dodged, and drove past defenders and beat Richardson. Kent scored five goals on the day and added an assist to be BC’s leading point-scorer on the day.

BC’s Achilles heel this season has unquestionably been its defense, as the Eagles scored the most goals per game in the ACC. Syracuse deftly and easily exploited every hole that presented itself in BC’s zone-based defense. Time and again, the Orange drove, passed, and cut right in front of BC goalie Zoe Ochoa, rarely missing when the opportunities presented themselves. Ochoa made four saves on the day, but was hard-pressed to keep the Orange out of the net without any defensive help.

Another problem for the Eagles was their draw control deficit. BC’s offense is predicated on long stretches of possession, often coming off the draw, and when the Eagles could not consistently win draws, their offense sputtered and their defense struggled. This is perhaps where Rix was missed most for BC, since she can usually utilize her tall frame and long arms to snag contested balls out of the air. While Syracuse only outgained BC 17-14 on the draw, the Eagles never really got their offense into a rhythm because they never had control for more than a few minutes at a time.

The end of Buried comes with Paul Conroy on the phone with a member of the U.S. State Department, which has been trying to locate Conroy. The Department has gotten information on Conroy’s possible location, and as the two sides talk, the State Department tells Conroy it is approaching to dig him out.

With the game tied at 13-all, the Eagles had possession with less than two minutes to go in the game. BC went to its usual “run-the-clock-down-then-let-our-stars-do-their-thing” offense. Mannelly played the point, and with six seconds to go, BC got a good shot off, thinking it might finally about to be rescued. Richardson stopped the shot, however, and the game went to overtime.

In each of the first two overtimes, BC gained possession off the draw and did the same thing—ran the clock down and looked for a last shot. Each time, the Eagles had at least one good look but couldn’t find the back of the net.

Paul Conroy hears digging through the phone. The State Department representative tells him that workers are going to get him out and save him. Conroy realizes, however, that he can’t hear anyone digging above him. As he runs out of air and the coffin goes underground, the State Department realizes it has found another American who had been captured months earlier and hadn’t been saved either, leaving no doubt in Conroy’s fate.

Just over one minute into sudden death overtime, Kayla Treanor wrapped around the net and put the ball between Ochoa’s legs, leaving no doubt for the Eagles’ fate. BC dropped its sticks in disbelief, as it was the Orange who formed mob around Treanor and celebrated their victory.

Featured Image by Graham Beck / Heights Senior Staff

April 25, 2015