Boston College women’s hockey opened the season in forgetful fashion, dropping two spots in the national polls after a pair of losses. On Saturday afternoon, the Eagles reminded everyone why they were one of just two teams to earn a preseason first-place vote. Eight different players recorded points as BC skated to a convincing 5-1 victory over visiting Syracuse to win its 10th home opener in 12 tries under head coach Katie Crowley.
“I thought after a rough weekend we started to play really well as a team,” Crowley said in her postgame press conference, courtesy of BCEagles.com. “You know, possessing pucks and doing the little things we’ve been working on all week. It was a really good team win for us, and we started to see how good our team can be.”
The Eagles’ (1-2) offense, which had been held to three goals by Minnesota Duluth in a two-game set, showcased plenty of talent—five different players scored, led by Makenna Newkirk and Lindsay Agnew, who finished with a goal and two assists apiece. Spreading the wealth made things difficult for the Orange (0-1) to keep up, as it quickly fell behind, 4-0, through two periods and only managed a late goal as consolation. BC freshman goaltender Maddy McArthur was prominent in her first career win, stopping 22 of 23 shots in impressive manner.
“The defense did a really good job in picking out players,” said McArthur, who followed up a historical debut in Minnesota with a strong home performance. “I always have confidence that they’re going to do their job so it really makes my job easier.”
McArthur conceded the lone goal once the visitors began to press in the third period. Protecting a decisive 4-0 lead, the Eagles went on the penalty kill when Grace Bizal was called for hooking. After three-consecutive saves, Syracuse’s Brooke Avery finally broke through as Abby Moloughney set her teammate up for a tap-in on the left post.
Other than that, though, the Orange struggled to crack the first-year. The biggest chance down the stretch came after Avery’s goal, but McArthur made a remarkable lunging save at the right post to keep Syracuse at one goal. McArthur played well, as did the defensemen in front of her. Crowley was particularly impressed after the game with the duo of Serena Sommerfield and Grace Bizal, two players that have warranted minimal attention after the return of three Olympians.
“I think [Serena] hasn’t got the credit she’s deserved in our defensive core and I think she’s very underrated,” Crowley said. “I think Grace has been using her speed. She’s using it this year, and I thought she played well.”
The forwards, meanwhile, were on their game from the beginning. Despite dealing with Crowley shuffling players around the last few weeks, the high-octane offense that averaged over four goals per game last season was on display against Syracuse.
The first goal of the game, at the 14-minute mark of the first period, came as a result of the defense transitioning to offense—something BC should be particularly effective at in future games with a deep group of defensemen. Bizal scooped up the puck behind the net and sent a bounce pass up the boards to Caitrin Lonergan, who engaged in a give-and-go with Kelly Browne before knocking it in on the left post.
The next two goals prominently featured Agnew, a transfer from the University of Minnesota. Agnew put the Eagles up, 2-0, after a centering pass from Daryl Watts—she split two defenders and rifled a shot to the left of Syracuse goaltender Maddi Welch. Next, on a power play, Agnew played it off the wall to Newkirk, who delivered a pass to Megan Keller. The senior, situated at the right circle, one-timed it past Welch to push the lead to three. It was a remarkable sequence of passes, prompting an emphatic fist pump from Crowley on the bench.
“I think she’s been a great addition for us, and she’s an unbelievable person,” Crowley said of Agnew, who recorded her first points in a BC uniform. “It’s just exciting for me to see her be able to contribute like she has been this year. She’s poised, mature, and a great addition to our team.”
Sommerfield contributed to the fourth goal, denying a rush on the boards while setting up Newkirk to carry the puck out. The senior located Agnew, who in turn set up Watts for a shot at the left post that worked its way in. The assist was especially meaningful for Newkirk, who became just the fifth player in program history to reach the 150-point plateau.
The scoring was capped with eight minutes left. Lonergan connected with Cayla Barnes after cycling the puck around, and the freshman defenseman set up Newkirk at the right post for a goal.
“I think it’s just nice to have everyone start contributing,” Newkirk said. “We work really well together. It was nice just to be able to get a lot of players on the scoresheet and get started and get rolling.”
The win was a prime example of what the Eagles can do when they’re on. They have a deep defensive corps with a freshman goaltender who can rise to the occasion. They have countless threats in the offensive third—Watts, the reigning national player of the year, was third on the scoresheet. They have a transfer that has seamlessly integrated and defensemen that have been able to work their way up while still killing off chances. Sure, Syracuse has only one winning season in the last four years, but it was more than clear that BC was way above and beyond the better team. It’s just a matter of where the Eagles can go from here.
Featured Image by Maggie DePatri / Heights Staff