No. 4 Boston College lacrosse’s difficult schedule continued with its fourth straight ranked matchup of the season, as the Eagles opened up ACC play against No. 10 Duke on Saturday.
“I think these girls want the best of the best all year round because it just requires them to play at such a high level all the time,” BC head coach Acacia Walker-Weinstein said. “And we can never take your foot off the gas. So this is the part of what it’s like to play here.”
Entering the high stakes matchup, Duke held a 15–5 all-time series lead over BC (3–1, 1–0 Atlantic Coast). But the Eagles are quickly chipping away at that lead—having now won four of their last five contests against Duke—and Saturday’s 17–8 statement victory over the Blue Devils (3–1, 0–1) added to that total.
“I think we just had a tough fundamental game last weekend,” Walker-Weinstein said. “And it was a great opportunity to learn. And the girls embraced a really hard week of practice and hard messages from the coaches and they got a lot better.”
The Eagles wasted no time establishing a lead over Duke, as Cassidy Weeks found the back of the net under a minute into the first quarter. The early score set the tone of the game, as the Eagles never conceded their lead.
Kayla Martello, Mallory Hasselbeck, and Mckenna Davis joined the scoring in the first quarter, recording a goal each, while goalkeeper Rachel Hall let in just one goal, anchoring BC’s defense.
“I thought Rachel was such a leader today,” Walker-Weinsetin said. “She kept her composure, she made all the saves that she needed to make plus a few extra and I just think the defense really embraced the adjustments that were made this week and they played as a unit and that’s when they’re, to me, the best defensive unit in the country.”
After penalties—which led to free-position goals—plagued BC in its matchup on Feb. 19 against then-No. 5 Northwestern, the Eagles stayed disciplined and allowed Duke just three free-position shots in the affair.
Just like in the first quarter, BC scored early in the second, as Jenn Medjid tallied her 10th goal of the season 1:30 into the quarter to put BC up 5–1.
Duke responded with a goal of its own which brought it back within three, but Belle Smith answered at the 11:07 mark. A foul on Sydney Scales gifted Duke its first free-position attempt, and Lexi Schmalz capitalized, cutting BC’s lead to 6–3.
After the goal, however, the Blue Devils went on a 17-minute scoring drought which allowed BC to extend its lead.
A late Weeks goal at the end of the first half put the Eagles up 7–3, and BC picked up where it left off in the third quarter.
Hall continued to put on a defensive clinic, acting like a brick wall in the second half. After her fifth save of the contest, BC cleared the ball and marched down the field. Medjid potted her second goal of the game to put BC up 8–3 at the 13:37 mark of the third quarter.
Four minutes later, Duke sent a barrage of shots in Hall’s direction, but the Eagles forced a shot clock violation. In a perfect example of strong defense leading to strong offense, BC cleared the ball and again trudged down the field for a Martello goal to go up 9–3. Three minutes after that, Davis put the Eagles up 10–3.
Duke ended its scoring drought with 2:10 to go in the third quarter, and the Eagles went into the final quarter up six goals.
After early fourth-quarter goals gave BC a 12–4 lead and appeared to ice the game, Duke went on a scoring frenzy, recording four straight goals in just over four minutes.
Despite backup goalkeeper Shea Dolce entering the last three games for at least one quarter of play, Walker-Weinstein decided to keep Hall in for the entire game, even after Duke’s run.
“You know, we have a plan, we’ve got two incredible goalies and we make, you know, some decisions in advance, and some decisions in the moment,” Walker-Weinstein said. “And the two of them, Rachel and Shea, have been incredible to each other and they compete but they support each other and that’s all we can ask for.”
A Martello goal stopped the bleeding with 5:54 left in the game, and the Eagles tacked on four more insurance goals.
“I just think these guys sometimes forget how experienced they are,” Walker-Weinstein said. “And I just said to them to take a deep breath, and smile, and let their shoulders drop, and just be calm, and remember how to play at this level and they did such a great job.”