Sports, Spring, Lacrosse

Previewing 2021 Lacrosse: NCAA Tournament vs. Notre Dame

With a fourth straight trip to the Final Four on the line, Boston College lacrosse is set to renew its famed Holy War rivalry with Notre Dame this weekend. After taking home two over the Irish already this season, the Eagles are on the hunt for a third—but this time, the stakes are higher.

Who is BC playing?

No. 5 Notre Dame

When is BC playing?

Saturday, May 22 3 p.m.

Where is BC playing?

Newton, Mass., Newton Campus Lacrosse Field

How to watch:

Fans can tune in on ESPN3. Guests of student-athletes and coaches are permitted to attend, but the game is not open to the general public.

How they got here:

Notre Dame

The Fighting Irish suffered just five regular season losses this season: two to ACC Tournament runner up Syracuse, one to undefeated North Carolina, and two to BC. Each loss was to top-five teams, and none were by double digits. The Irish gave the No. 1 Tar Heels the biggest scare of their season with an 11-10 decision in UNC’s favor back in April. 

The postseason, however, told a bit of a different story to that hard-fought battle with UNC. After scraping by Duke with a 17-16 decision in the ACC Tournament Quarterfinals, the Fighting Irish suffered a 14-point loss to UNC—the biggest differential and lowest scoring game of their season. On the hunt for redemption on the national stage, Notre Dame steamrolled Robert Morris in a 16-0 shutout, followed by a slightly less commanding 13-8 victory over Virginia in the second round. The win over Robert Morris marked the first shutout in NCAA Tournament history.

BC

After dropping from the ACC Tournament earlier than expected with a loss to Syracuse, the Eagles are on somewhat of a revenge tour. Still, BC spent the majority of the season inside the national top five, and just two regular season losses meant BC earned a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament. So far in the postseason, the Eagles have proven that they’re up to snuff. With two landslide victories in the first two rounds, head coach Acacia Walker-Weinstein has had the chance to rotate in her reserve players, giving stars such as Charlotte North, Belle Smith, and Cara Urbank some well-deserved rest. 

North, in particular, has gone to work for BC this year. The Tewaaraton Award finalist broke BC’s single-game NCAA Tournament record with eight goals against Temple. She nearly broke the record in the game prior as well, recording seven goals to tie former player and current assistant coach Sam Apuzzo’s record, but because the result was already beyond doubt, Walker-Weinstein opted to sit her star before she could break the record. Still, North is just eight goals away from Apuzzo’s single-season scoring record of 94, and just one more record-breaking game could put her over the edge. 

What to expect from Notre Dame:

The teams’ first two meetings this season showed remarkably similar results, as BC won the first 19-11, followed by an 18-12 win two days later. Despite the wins, those two contests marked some of BC’s lower-scoring outings of the season. The Fighting Irish rank 29th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing an average of 10.88 goals per game. In most statistical categories, Notre Dame doesn’t rank within the top 30, but considering the fact that the ACC is the best lacrosse conference in the nation, the Fighting Irish faced one of the toughest possible schedules. 

Kasey Choma leads the Fighting Irish in the scoring department with 42 goals on the season, and Maddie Howe follows her with 33. All together, just four Notre Dame players have eclipsed 40 total points this season. Where the Fighting Irish stand out on the stat sheet, however, is on defense. Notre Dame averages 8.76 caused turnovers per game, compared to BC’s 5.83 average, putting the Eagles at 103rd in the nation in that category.

Outlook:

On paper, BC has the edge. Add in the Eagles’ historical advantage of two wins over Notre Dame already this year, and BC looks in even better shape. Add in home field advantage, added rest time for their starters, and three straight Final Four appearances in their back pocket, and the Eagles are sitting pretty. Still, especially given the rivalrous nature of the game, nothing is guaranteed. Even against seemingly untouchable UNC, Notre Dame put up a fight, and the Fighting Irish are the No. 5 seeded team in the tournament for a reason. Statistics and external factors aside, two competitive teams will meet on the Newton Campus Lacrosse Field with a trip to the Final Four on the line, and a heated battle is sure to ensue. 

Featured Image by Jess Rivilis / Heights Senior Staff

May 21, 2021
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