Sports, Spring, Lacrosse

No. 5 Eagles Spoil No. 1 Syracuse’s Perfect Season, Clinch Top Seed in ACC Tournament

It is not often that a lacrosse team wins a game while leading for a total of less than two minutes. It is even less likely when trailing by six goals in the third quarter, and even rarer when the opposing team is undefeated, the No. 1 team in the nation, and playing at home in front of a sold-out crowd. 

But that is exactly what No. 5 Boston College lacrosse did to No. 1 Syracuse in Thursday’s rematch of the 2021 National Championship game. According to the attacker Mckenna Davis, the Eagles’ confidence never faltered, no matter what the scoreboard, or the clock, showed.

“Honestly, we were so confident and calm the whole time and never felt like we were down,” Davis said. “I think we’re all very good at, like, staying level headed and staying focused … I mean, I looked at Jenn Medjid and she said ‘one at a time, one at a time.’”

After overcoming a six-goal deficit behind a dominant second half from goalkeeper Shea Dolce, BC (13–3, 8–1 Atlantic Coast) clawed all the way back against Syracuse (15–1, 8–1) to become ACC regular season co-champions, bringing an end to the Orange’s perfect season with a 17–16 victory at SU Soccer Stadium. The win marks the Eagles’ third ACC regular championship since 2018 and their seventh straight win.

“I think they just believe very deeply in themselves and each other,” BC head coach Acacia Walker-Weinstein said. “And we’ve been tested a lot in the last couple of weeks. So I just think they needed to just kind of get back to that and get back to the belief that they have. I just told them that they needed to trust their preparation.”

BC struck first in the contest, but it was no easy feat, as the Orange’s defense, which totaled five turnovers, quickly set the tone of the game. Delaney Sweitzer notched two back-to-back saves before Kayla Martello finally broke through for the Eagles’ first goal of the game with just eight seconds left on the shot clock.

The Orange responded with a goal of its own less than a minute later, and when BC’s Lizzie O’Neill drew a yellow card to put Syracuse up a player for two minutes, Syracuse capitalized with another score to take a 2–1 lead. 

With 2:39 left in the first quarter, the Orange had established a 6–1 lead with five different scorers. And the Eagles did not take the lead again until 1:21 remaining in the game.

“It’s a little scary, we can’t come out against Syracuse and have a terrible half,” Walker-Weinstein said. “And you know, this is just a regular season game. There’s ACC’s around the corner.”

The Eagles finally closed the floodgates with a Martello free position goal, and just 35 seconds later, BC cut the lead down to three goals.

The first quarter ended with the Eagles trailing 7–3, but BC refused to let the Orange run away. Less than three minutes into the second quarter, Syracuse’s lead had already been cut to two goals.

The Orange once again regained a five goal lead by the 8:11 mark of the second quarter. The two teams then exchanged one more goal apiece, and Syracuse entered the second half with a comfortable 11–6 lead.

“We just weren’t playing our game in the first half and just were a little sloppy,” Walker-Weinstein said. “We weren’t shooting well, just a lot of the things we were focusing on. We weren’t actually executing until halftime. We just needed to regroup and reset everything. Get back to what we thought the components were of our game plan that were gonna help us win.”

Syracuse quickly extended its lead to a game-high six goals just 3:37 into the quarter, but the Eagles bore down and launched a 4–1 run to chop the lead to three goals. But a last-second Syracuse free position goal put the Orange up 14–10 just two seconds before time expired in the third quarter.

Dolce, who totaled 12 saves all game, allowed just three goals in the period, allowing BC to close the gap on the Orange.

“Yeah, I mean, at halftime I kind of took a reset myself,” Dolce said. “And I forgot about the first half, and it’s kind of one of those things where you just have to forget the goals that went in prior. …It didn’t matter what my stats looked like. I was just focused on making the save one save at a time and I think the switch in my mindset really helped me in the second half.”

But BC was not going down without a fight, and Martello started the run with her fourth goal of the game. Davis then notched a goal to bring the Eagles within two, building up BC’s pace of play.

Closing with a 6–2 run to tie the game at 16 apiece, it was ultimately Davis who sent the ball flying into the back of the net with 1:21 remaining to claim the Eagles the title of ACC co-champions and the No. 1 seed in the ACC tournament.

“This is obviously an amazing feeling and we’re riding high,” Dolce said. “But I think we’re gonna be right back to work tomorrow, and we’re gonna get ready for the tournament. And that’s what’s awesome about this team.”

April 20, 2023