There are few matchups in college athletics more fitting for the Saturday before Easter than that of Notre Dame versus Boston College—a face off between two of the most prominent Catholic schools in Division I.
Matchups across sports between these two programs are often referred to as the “Holy War,” due to the schools’ religious affiliations. And on Saturday afternoon, No. 7 BC lacrosse’s tilt against the No. 8 Fighting Irish certainly fit the bill of a war with physical play and drama over an action-packed 60 minutes.
BC (10–3, 6–1 Atlantic Coast) defeated Notre Dame (8–4, 4–3) in South Bend, Ind. in a back-and-forth affair that concluded with a 5–0 run for the Eagles. Shea Dolce made a career-best 13 saves in the game to keep BC alive.
“Yeah, we just came in knowing how good Notre Dame is, and we just braced ourselves for kind of a roller coaster,” BC head coach Acacia Walker-Weinstein said. “Some ups and some downs, and we just focused a lot on trying to have composure during those ups and downs [and] not to get too high, not get too low. In my 11 years, I think this is one of our best program wins.”
BC’s first goal was fairly unlucky for Notre Dame’s Lilly Callahan—a Needham, Mass. native—as Callahan saved a Belle Smith shot, but Smith scooped up her own rebound and put it past Callahan to open up the scoring.
It looked as though Smith’s goal would be the only tally of the quarter until Andrea Reynolds brought the ball downfield with less than 30 seconds left on the clock and dished it to Jenn Medjid in transition. Medjid fired the ball behind her back to double BC’s lead with just 2.7 seconds left in the quarter, making it 2–0.
The second quarter featured heavy offense and abundant scoring. A crucial man-down turnover by BC allowed Notre Dame to secure its first goal of the game 36 seconds into the frame. This set up the Fighting Irish to go on a 3–0 run and take the lead at 3–2.
Despite recording three yellow cards in the game, BC locked down its defensive setup, only allowing a single goal while down a player in transition.
“Yeah, you know, we’ve been practicing man up and down a lot lately,” Walker-Weinstein said. “And I just think our kids were working really well together. They were very much in sync.”
The Eagles scored four more goals in the rest of the second quarter to Notre Dame’s two, taking a 6–5 lead into halftime.
The Fighting Irish, just like in the second quarter, put one past Dolce just 55 seconds into the third, but Cassidy Weeks responded to put the Eagles up by one again.
Nevertheless, the next 15 minutes of the game was all Notre Dame. A 5–0 run seemed to put the game away with the Eagles barely hanging on and down 11–7 with 10:43 left in the game.
Mckenna Davis cut the lead to three with 9:21 left, but neither team scored for the next five minutes.
With 4:12 left, Kayla Martello potted another goal to cut the lead to just two and keep the Eagles’ hopes alive.
Cassidy Weeks then won a crucial draw control against the ACC’s top ranked team in terms of draw control wins per game, and the Eagles drew a yellow card to go up a player. Courtney Weeks, Cassidy’s sister, took advantage just 29 seconds after Martello’s goal with one of her own.
Cassidy Weeks won yet another crucial draw control to give the Eagles a chance to tie the game at 11–11. And Medjid was up for the task, completing the comeback and passing Charlotte North for second all-time on BC’s scoring list with 2:30 left to play.
“Going into those draw controls, we knew they were must wins, especially since you’re down by two or three goals at that point,” Cassidy Weeks said. “For me personally, Andrea Reynolds came up to me and just got in my face and told me we needed to win this and we need to hustle.”
But Notre Dame won the draw control, giving it a chance to take the lead back. Madison Ahern, who had back-to-back goals in Notre Dame’s previous 5–0 run, looked to put the game away. But Dolce, who hadn’t faced a shot in over nine minutes, had other plans. Dolce dropped to the turf to deny Ahern and make her career-best 13th save.
“I’m so proud of her because to step up in a game like this, up, down late in the game, and man down saves,” Walker-Weinstein said. “She stood on her head truly, I mean, she had saves that no goalie in the country could have made today. … I just think she was the MVP today.”
As the Eagles took the ball downfield with just over a minute left, feeling heavy pressure from Notre Dame, they got into their offensive setup.
Medjid drew a free position attempt with 20 seconds left, but missed high. Courtney Weeks was the closest player to the ball, however, so BC retained possession. Courtney Weeks then fired it to her sister, Cassidy Weeks, who rolled the ball through Callahan’s legs to take the lead with 12 seconds remaining. BC held onto its 12–11 lead for the rest of the game.
“I heard [Cassidy] say, ‘Yeah, I’m open,’ so I knew right away,” Courtney Weeks said. “She’s always great at making big plays, so right when I heard her say, ‘here,’ I was just like, I’m gonna get her the ball. She’s gonna win this game.”