One of the last times Boston College lacrosse faced a significant first-half deficit in the postseason, it was a sunny May day in Baltimore, and the Eagles’ season—not to mention a shot at the National Championship—was on the line.
But BC couldn’t have called that game a comeback victory had the Eagles not trailed for at least a little while.
On Wednesday, the deficit wasn’t as high (it only reached a maximum of two), and neither were the stakes (BC is all but guaranteed an NCAA Tournament bid), against Virginia in the ACC Tournament Quarterfinals. Still, the result was much the same. After trailing early in the first half, BC (13-2, 9-2 Atlantic Coast) pulled away for a 16-12 victory, holding onto its postseason hopes for at least another day.
Virginia (8-8, 3-7) entered the game with its prospects already plummeting, as the Cavaliers found themselves on the losing end of five straight. The Cavaliers’ significant downturn after starting the season 5-0—a streak which BC was responsible for crushing—was not for a lack of talent, however. Virginia registered four All-ACC selections, including two on the All-ACC Freshman Team.
BC, not one to be outdone, had seven All-ACC selections this season, including three freshmen: Belle Smith, Sydney Scales, and Hunter Roman. Smith, not only an All-ACC Freshman Team member but also an All-ACC First Team member, was up to her usual antics against Virginia, recording a goal and an assist.
What has set BC apart from its competitors this season isn’t its individual performances, however, but instead the cumulative effort of a deep and balanced squad, beginning with its offense. Nine different Eagles found the back of the net on Wednesday, three of whom scored hat tricks.
While BC’s pattern of balance and offensive efficiency rang true again on Wednesday, the final scoreline could be considered a come-from-behind victory for the Eagles. Charlotte North opened the game with a goal, but Virginia responded with three straight to take an early 3-1 lead. The deficit, though small, was unexpected considering the barrage of scoring the Eagles levied on Virginia in the teams’ last meeting.
BC’s early deficit was not for a lack of trying on goaltender Rachel Hall’s part, as the junior opened the game with some key saves and finished the night with 10 stops in net. Virginia netminder Charlie Campbell matched Hall with 10 saves of her own.
What set Wednesday’s game apart from BC and Virginia’s previous matchup was the Cavaliers’ efficacy on draw controls. Whereas two weeks ago BC outdrew Virginia 22-10, the margin was much narrower on Wednesday at 16-14 in the Eagles’ favor.
Smith’s assist came early in the first half on a wide-open shot from Jenn Medjid. The Eagles followed Medjid’s tally with a textbook transition goal. From the center line, it took just two passes and a handful of steps for the ball to go from Courtney Weeks to her sister Cassidy, then to Caitlynn Mossman wide open at the top of the crease. Mossman buried it behind Campbell for her first of the night to tie it up at three.
After a few more goals in BC’s favor, North finally got back on the board with another opportunity in transition. She was quite literally all alone in the offensive zone, and Campbell had no shot in the one-on-one situation with BC’s leading scorer. North buried it for BC’s fifth straight goal to take a 6-3 lead. Cassidy then made it a 6-0 scoring run in BC’s favor, but it didn’t stop there.
Annabelle Hasselbeck potted perhaps the most picturesque goal of the season, as the freshman fended off a Cavalier with her back to the net and surprised Campbell with a behind-the-back, low-angle missile.
At halftime, BC led 9-5, which, even for the No. 4 squad in the nation, isn’t exactly comfortable.
The Cavaliers quickly showed why they weren’t out of it yet, though. A 4-0 Virginia run, starting in the waning seconds of the first half, put the Cavaliers right back in it at 9-8.
But just as Virginia looked hot, Smith converted a free-position shot, followed quickly by another from Cassidy. She later added a third goal, marking the redshirt sophomore’s first career hat trick.
Though Virginia and BC each traded a few more goals to finish out the contest, the result was largely out of doubt by the time the final five minutes rolled around. The teams were matched up in practically every statistical category, including turnovers (13–11 in Virginia’s favor), fouls (22–24 in BC’s favor), and caused turnovers (6–4 in BC’s favor).
With the win, the Eagles live to see another day of competition and are set to square off against Syracuse on Friday in the semifinals. After splitting last weekend’s doubleheader, the matchup will be decisive in more ways than one.
Featured Image by Kristian Lamarre / Heights Staff