Lacrosse, Spring, Sports

Previewing the 2023 Lacrosse Season: Medjid and Smith Look to Build on New Foundations in Post-North Era

For most teams, entering the season ranked as one of the top five teams in the country is an accomplishment that’s hard to come by. But for Boston College lacrosse, that level of greatness is not just a goal. It is an expectation. 

Sitting at No. 3 in Inside Lacrosse’s Division I preseason poll, BC will enter the 2023 season ranked in the top five for the sixth year in a row. While the Eagles’ 2022 season ended in heartbreak—they lost to North Carolina in the 2022 National Championship one year after capturing their first-ever national title—2023 provides an opportunity for BC to avenge that loss and return to the mountaintop of college lacrosse. 

Nearly the whole crew that came within one goal of winning it all last year is back for the 2023 season, including BC head coach Acacia Walker-Weinstein, who signed a five-year extension on June 10. 

USA Lacrosse named attacker Jenn Medjid and midfielder Belle Smith as First Team All-Americans, while defender Sydney Scales earned Second Team honors, and Hollie Schleicher, Hunter Roman, and Cassidy Weeks earned Third Team honors. Goaltender Rachel Hall was named an honorable mention.

The biggest gap BC will have to fill this season will be the one left by Charlotte North, a two-time Tewaaraton Award winner, who is considered by many as the best women’s college lacrosse player of all time.

As a graduate student in 2022, North bolstered BC’s attack with 92 goals and 115 total points. In 2021, North tallied 102 goals and 114 total points. North was a consensus First Team All-American in both seasons, and was an NCAA Woman of the Year nominee in the 2022. Through her three years on the Heights—she transferred from Duke in 2019—she finished second in program history goals scored with 217 and fourth in total points with 264. North became the all-time NCAA leader in goals scored on May 15, 2022 against Denver.

Replacing North will be no easy task, but having Medjid, Smith, and the skeleton of BC’s 2022 roster back will help to ease the Eagles’ transition into the post-North era. BC is bolstered by a star-studded freshman class that features Ava Besson, Shea Dolce, Abbey Herod, and Michaela O’Connor, who were all selected as Inside Lacrosse’s top 50 recruits for the 2022 class

Besson is BC’s top recruit from the class, coming in at fourth on the list. She is followed by Dolce, a goaltender, who sits at seventh on the list. Dolce might not make an immediate impact this season with Hall in her last year, but she is certainly a capable heir to Hall’s throne and a promising player to have in future seasons. 

While the freshman class is star-studded, the burden of replacing North—BC’s all-time leading scorer—will likely fall on some of the other underclassmen. 

Sophomore attacker Mallory Hasselbeck—the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2021 and daughter of former BC and NFL quarterback Matt Hasselbeck—is one player who could help to alleviate that burden. Playing behind North and Medjid last season, she scored six goals and racked up four assists. With North gone, there’s room for her to shine, along with her sister Annabelle Hasselbeck notched two goals last season. 

Other notable sophomores include Summer Ahostino—the No. 3 recruit in the Class of 2021—and 2022 All-ACC Freshman Team selection Mckenna Davis. 

The most anticipated regular season game for the Eagles will be their contest against North Carolina on March 3 in a National Championship rematch on the road. Both teams will enter the season trying to replace their best player, as former Tar Heel and Tewaaraton finalist Jamie Ortega graduated at the end of the 2022 season. North was selected with the first overall pick in the Athletes Unlimited professional lacrosse league draft and Ortega was selected with the second overall pick.

The Eagles start their season with a matchup against Southern California at home. They’ll also face off against UMass, Duke, and Virginia—all teams ranked in the Top 25 in  Inside Lacrosse’s preseason poll—at home in Chestnut Hill. BC’s last game of the season will be on the road at Syracuse, and the Orange will be on the lookout for revenge in a rematch of the 2021 National Championship game. There’s no better time for the two teams to face off than the last game of the season before they’ll likely both head into the postseason with championship glory in sight. 

With Ortega gone, the Tar Heels’ throne is somewhat in question. Although some will write off the Eagles without North, BC made three consecutive National Championship appearances before she arrived on the Heights. Even without North, BC still has as much talent and experience as any other title contender, and 2023 will present an opportunity for the Eagles’ to live up to the level of greatness their fans expect. 

February 9, 2023