Although the NCAA Division I Women’s Lacrosse Committee would tell you otherwise, Saturday afternoon’s tournament quarterfinal between No. 4 Boston College lacrosse and No. 5 Stony Brook had all the makings of a National Championship game.
The dramatic contest hosting two teams that had led the Inside Women’s Lacrosse Poll for nine weeks and combined for one loss all season featured a packed crowd in intense weather, six ties, another six yellow cards, a last-second save, and, of course, a game-winning overtime goal.
Fortunately for the Eagles, it was their own Dempsey Arsenault finding the net in the extra frame, giving her team a 12-11 win and capping off what was debatably the most exciting game in all of women’s lacrosse this season.
Getting the ball to Arsenault was BC’s (21-1, 7-0 Atlantic Coast) Sam Apuzzo, who had been riding high on emotion all game long.
“This could’ve been the National Championship,” she said after the game. “Both teams definitely played like it was.”
Apuzzo finished the contest notching an assist on both Arsenault’s game-winning goal and Tess Chandler’s game-tying goal in regulation—by that point, it was easy to forget she had jumpstarted her team’s scoring, too.
Exactly one minute into the game, the ACC Attacker of the Year had already gotten past Stony Brook (20-1, 7-0 America East) goalkeeper Anna Tesoriero, who had entered the game allowing an NCAA-low 7.21 goals per game.
“That was one of our main focuses for the game,” said Apuzzo. “We wanted to come out strong and make sure they knew how intense we would be coming.”
Apuzzo’s goal was also her 81st of the year, the most in a single season by any Eagle in program history.
Her teammates were able to quickly add scoring of their own, too. Less than a minute later Hart also found twine, and in the blink of an eye—eight seconds to be exact—Arsenault followed. The three-goal lead—largely a byproduct of three-consecutive draw controls—to start the game forced Stony Brook head coach Joe Spallina to call an early timeout.
Although Spallina was anxious to make changes in his team’s performance, BC head coach Acacia Walker-Weinstein told her team to keep the same mentality—by the end of the game, her team continued to dominate the draw control margin, ultimately winning 20 of the 26 total faceoffs.
“We wanted to keep our foot on the gas,” she said. “Even when Stony Brook scored out of that timeout, it was good because we were expecting it, and well knowing we were going to take some hits out there.”
The timeout did the trick for the Seawolves, though. By the end of the half, Stony Brook had strung together a 7-3 run to take the lead. Three such goals were scored by Ally Kennedy, who completed her hat trick with 16.1 seconds left in the period and countered BC with the Seawolves’ first goal by running laterally across the field and diving as she scorched the ball past Lauren Daly.
Not to be forgotten, though, was Arsenault. Her game-winner may have been the highlight, but her behind-the-back goal in the first period was much more likely to make SportsCenter.
Also in the mix was Courtney Murphy, who tallied two of her own goals in the period. The nation’s leading scorer wouldn’t find the net again in the game, but would assist on Stony Brook’s final goal—an impressive shot from Kennedy, who finished with a game-high five goals.
By that point, BC found itself down three goals, and Walker-Weinstein needed her team to fight back furiously.
“We had to use everything to beat them,” she said. “We were level-headed when we were down and when we were up, and that made the difference.”
Out of Walker-Weinstein’s bag of tricks were two crafty goals from Tess Chandler to send the game to overtime. The 6-foot attacker climbed the ladder and received passes from both Emma Schurr and Apuzzo before spiking the ball into the back of the net.
Daly came up clutch, too. With three seconds left in regulation, the junior netminder caught a strike from Kylie Ohlmiller that was destined for the net.
“All week I practiced with our assistant coach Kayla Treanor against those backhand shots and I was just waiting for one at the end from her,” Daly said.
From there, it was Arsenault’s magic in the hair-raising minutes of overtime that sent the Eagles to their second-straight Final Four, where the storybook run will continue.
First up in Long Island: No. 1 Maryland—the team that ended BC’s title hopes in the championship game just a season ago.
Featured Image by Kaitlin Meeks / Heights Editor