Top Story, Spring, Lacrosse

Eagles Punch Ticket to ACC Championship With Emphatic Win Over Irish

At this rate, Boston College lacrosse’s first-ever ACC Championship might be more of a coronation than a contest. The Eagles, awaiting the winner of Virginia Tech and North Carolina, cruised into the conference final in convincing fashion, blitzing Notre Dame with 11 first-half goals, en route to a convincing 17-7 win on Friday afternoon.

No. 2 BC (19-0, 9-0 Atlantic Coast) has now won its first two postseason games by a combined score of 36-13, an impressive flexing of its pure offensive and defensive talent. The Eagles are still staring up at Stony Brook in the polls, but at this point, it’s tough to look at their prolonged dominance and expect this undefeated run to end any time soon.

Sam Apuzzo and Kaileen Hart both scored four goals, Dempsey Arsenault had a hat trick, and both Tara Schurr and Cara Urbank chipped in with two tallies apiece in one of BC’s more complete performances of the year. The defense was impressive from midway through the first half on, limiting the Irish (10-9, 3-5) to just three goals in the final 40-plus minutes of game action

The Eagles played clean, refraining from giving Notre Dame a single free-position shot, further exerting their will with an edge in draw controls, shots, forced turnovers, and clears. The Irish trailed by just one goal, 5-4, with 14 minutes left on the clock in the first half—but BC quickly flipped the switch.

It’s high-speed, efficient offensive attack quickly overwhelmed a team the Eagles had beaten by just two in the season opener. They went on a 6-0 run to end the first half, extended the lead to double-digits in the opening 10 minutes of the second, and never looked back. Apuzzo capped BC’s scoring with 17 minutes left in the game, scoring her 75th of the season—an exclamation mark on what has been a tremendous first two rounds of play for head coach Acacia Walker-Weinstein’s team.

Notre Dame had hung around back in February, taking the contest’s first lead and sticking tight with the Eagles. The problem in that game for the Irish, though—a 13-11 loss—was BC’s 5-0 run in the second half. This time around, it was simply being the lesser opponent. The Eagles outmatched their foes in every facet of the game and just continued to further their case for being the best team in the country

Hart opened the scoring just 33 seconds into the game, prompting a swap of goals between the two teams. Nikki Ortega answered for the Irish, followed by Apuzzo striking for her first. Goals from Hart and Schurr pushed the lead to three early, but Notre Dame had enough fight to keep it close. The Irish got tallies from Savannah Buchanan, Andie Aldave, and Molly Cobb to pull within one again—but that was all she wrote.

Arsenault and Hart quickly scored over a span of just 19 seconds, taking advantage of a draw control win by Sheila Rietano. Then, after a solid save from BC’s Lauren Daly—one of 11 on the day for the junior—Apuzzo added another to double up the Irish.

Notre Dame limped into the break, allowing three more goals in the last 10 minutes. Even with a comfortable seven-goal lead, the Eagles came out strong at the start of the second half, clearly set on creating comfortable distance. They managed to do so easily, scoring twice in the first two minutes. After the Irish’s Kaci Messier broke a run with a man-up goal, BC answered emphatically.

The Eagles scored three of the next four goals, all of which came during a four-minute stretch, pushing the lead to double-digits and emphatically securing their advancement to a program-first conference championship game. The win was decisive, but you’d be hard-pressed to see Walker-Weinstein looking past Sunday’s championship. Her team is in peak form, but the last time BC faced VTech, it only won by two, and UNC has always been a tough out. Either way, Sunday is a chance for a program-defining win and the continuation of a remarkable run.

Featured Image by Bradley Smart / Heights Editor

April 27, 2018