The stage was set on Saturday afternoon for Boston College lacrosse to honor BC’s beloved Welles Crowther by continuing its undefeated season. Before the game, the team held its annual tradition of celebrating Crowther with a short ceremony in his memory. For this annual Red Bandana Day, senior Hannah Hyatt was given the honor of wearing the number 19 jersey.
Nonetheless, it would be a lie to say that there wasn’t some panic on the BC side during the opening half of Saturday afternoon’s matchup against No. 13 Duke. The Blue Devils almost ended up playing spoiler, as the lopsided 20-12 scoreline at the final buzzer was not an accurate indicator of how the game went for the Eagles overall.
Through the initial 30 minutes of play, the contest saw five lead changes, an uncharacteristic trend during No. 1 BC’s (14-0, 5-0 Atlantic Coast) perfect season. The Eagles’ nine goals during this frame served as proof of their productive offense––six being split equally amongst powerhouses Sheila Rietano, Sam Apuzzo, and Dempsey Arsenault––but they couldn’t seem to slow down the Blue Devils (8-5, 2-3) on the other side in front of goaltender Abbey Ngai.
Duke was sparked by back-to-back goals from Abby Landry and, regardless of BC’s quick responses in the offensive zone, its sloppiness in clearing attempts on the other side of the field didn’t work in its favor. Despite going on a 4-1 scoring run to close out the final 10 minutes of play, the Eagles couldn’t distance themselves from the Blue Devils, as the half ended with a score of 9-6 in favor of BC.
Things turned around quite quickly in the second half, however, as the squad began to play like the top-ranked team in the nation. The Eagles’ defense buckled down and put some much needed pressure on the Blue Devils’ attackers, with most of their offensive success beginning with a smart play on the other side of the field.They forced the Blue Devils to commit a handful of sloppy turnovers––19 total by the end of the afternoon––that resulted in the majority of their goal scoring opportunities.
“It was everything,” head coach Acacia Walker-Weinstein said of her defense’s prowess in forcing turnovers. “I think when we come out and put some healthy pressure, it obviously helps out in our favor.”
A quick unassisted strike from Cara Urbank at the midway point of the second frame ignited a 7-0 run toward the back end of the second half. During this stretch of Eagles dominance, Apuzzo and Kenzie Kent shined, as they either scored or assisted on six of the seven goals.
It may be hard to stick out among a roster as talented as BC’s, but Rietano’s recent success has brought her to the forefront of the team’s attention. She was dominant in the draw circle, winning a team-high seven draws. Recording nine goals in the past four contests, three coming against Duke, Rietano’s recent scoring spurt has not gone unnoticed by her coach.
“I’m flabbergasted by her, but don’t think that I’m surprised,” Walker-Weinstein said of the junior. “I’m not surprised at all, and I know that that’s what she’s had in her all along.”
Overall, BC had yet another highly productive afternoon offensively, seeing seven different Eagles tally at least one goal. Arsenault led the charge, scoring five goals and tallying an assist. The Eagles’ most reliable offensive duo, Apuzzo and Kent, combined for a total of seven goals and eight assists, once again proving to be the backbone of the Eagles’ success. As a whole, BC is outscoring its opponents, 249-137, this season.
While the Blue Devils turned in a valiant effort, they simply couldn’t finish the job. BC’s win concludes the toughest stretch of their schedule, having played four top-15 teams in a row. The Eagles proved their keep against the best teams in the country, though, outscoring those talented opponents, 63-38.
Featured Image by Jonathan Ye / Heights Editor