Lacrosse, Spring, Sports

No. 1-Seed Eagles Defeat No. 9-Seed Duke 15–9, Advance to ACC Tournament Semifinals

When No. 4 Boston College lacrosse faced then-No. 10 Duke two months ago on Feb. 25, BC’s victory was never in question. The Eagles overpowered Duke in the opening minutes and never let it back into contention, taking care of the Blue Devils comfortably, 17–8.

In BC’s contest against the Blue Devils in the quarterfinals of the 2023 ACC Tournament on Wednesday, the game followed a similar theme.

The No. 1-seed Eagles (14–3, 8–1 Atlantic Coast) ended No. 9-seed Duke’s (8–10, 1–8) season after establishing an early 4–1 lead and earning a 15–9 victory in Charlotte, N.C.

“This conference is a gauntlet and no matter how the brackets are seeded and how the teams are seeded, every game is an incredible challenge and also an incredible opportunity to get better and to find out a little bit more about who we are,” BC head coach Acacia Walker-Weinstein said. “So that’s why we love the ACC.”

Freshman goaltender Shea Dolce led the Eagles, allowing just five goals through the first three quarters of play. She recorded six total saves in the contest.

“She prepares so well that I think it allows her to get back on track and make those big saves,” Walker-Weinstein said. “Again, spectacular performance from her and I’m so proud, she makes me feel so confident in the team.”

BC also capitalized on draw controls, winning 16 to Duke’s 13, which created constant scoring opportunities. The Eagles did this against Maddie Jenner, who leads the NCAA in total draw controls by 25.

“That’s our number one priority,” Ryan Smith, who recorded a team-high six draw controls, said. “We have a 12-person draw team, and one of the best draw takers and coaches in the whole world. So we’re pretty lucky with that. But we make it our priority. And that’s the first thing that needs to go well and then everything else will follow.”

Jenn Medjid, who was named to the All-ACC First Team on Tuesday for the second time in her collegiate career, gave the Eagles a 1–0 lead one minute into the contest. 

BC added four more goals to its first-quarter total, courtesy of Andrea Reynolds, Sydney Scales, Kayla Martello, and Belle Smith, which gave the Eagles a 5–2 lead heading into the second quarter. Smith and Scales were also named to the All-ACC First Team on Tuesday. 

“You know, we didn’t quite really ever get into our rhythm,”  Walker-Weinstein said despite the early lead. “But I was happy that we had nine different scores. They’re sharing the ball really well. That’s always a really good thing against a tough defense. So I’m happy about that.”

The Eagles extended their lead to six in the second quarter as they rattled off three unanswered goals in the first seven minutes before Duke stopped the run with its third goal of the game.

After exchanging one goal apiece, the Eagles entered halftime with a 9–4 lead, having allowed just seven shots on goal in the entire first half. BC’s defense forced 11 Blue Devil turnovers, and Dolce admitted that the lack of shots on goal made it difficult for her to get in a rhythm.

“Yeah, I mean, it’s tough, when you see a lot of shots you’re kind of in the zone,” Dolce said. “But when you go like multiple minutes not seeing the ball, obviously makes it difficult. But I just give credit to the defense like, when Duke did come down, they’re very good offensively. But the defense gave me the shots that I wanted to see.”

The start of the third quarter told a different story than the first half. Through the first 9:29, the Eagles were held scoreless, while Duke cut the lead to 9–5.

“Yeah, I think I mean, Duke’s a great defensive team,” Belle Smith said. “They throw like three to six defenses at us every game and credits to them for being able to do that. I think with that, you know, you can’t prepare for every single defense. So we just focus on ourselves a lot this week.”

BC finally broke through Duke’s wall with Annabelle Hasselbeck finding the back of the net. And when Duke’s Missy Biscardi drew a yellow card, the Eagles capitalized with a Belle Smith goal to increase their lead to six.

Courtney Weeks tacked on one more goal for BC before the third-quarter horn sounded, and BC entered the final quarter of play on a three-goal run and with a then game-high seven-goal lead. 

In the fourth quarter, Belle Smith completed her hat trick at the 13:26 mark, and 46 seconds later Medjid joined her with a hat trick of her own to establish a 14–5 lead.

Duke gained one back, but Medjid found the net for her fourth goal of the game—on just five shots. 

The Blue Devils had a spark with three goals in the span of 1:09 to bring them back within six goals with six minutes remaining, but the run stopped there as BC ran out the clock.

“I also think a lot of people say BC is a postseason team, which is exciting, we want to be a full season team,” Belle Smith said. “But to know that’s in the back of our head, I think everyone just elevates their game, every time we step on the field. So that was the first time we elevated our game today but we’re ready in two days, even tomorrow in practice, it’s gonna keep getting higher and higher.”

April 26, 2023