Sports, Lacrosse, Spring, Top Story

Eagles Claim First-Ever ACC Championship, Defeat North Carolina 11–9

6–22. That was No. 4 Boston College lacrosse’s all-time record against one of its biggest foes, No. 6 North Carolina, before Sunday’s ACC Tournament Championship game.

“You know, having those painstaking losses in other years can be a part of the process for this year, too,” BC head coach Acacia Walker-Weinstein said. “It doesn’t have to be the end all be all when you lose, it’s part of it. And I think those girls carry those memories with them, and it leveraged them today.” 

On a quest for its first-ever ACC title, the No. 1-seed Eagles ran into none other than No. 3-seed North Carolina in the championship game. The holder of six straight ACC Tournament titles, the Tar Heels had taken down BC in four of the last five ACC Tournament Championship games and entered the game on a four-game win streak over the Eagles. 

But BC snapped the streak Sunday, as it came back from a three-goal third-quarter deficit and held the Tar Heels’ scoreless in the final quarter of play to hoist the ACC Championship trophy for the first time in program history.

“I mean, I instantly cried because now it’s theirs,” Walker-Weinstein said. “And it’s just so inspiring. They made history.” 

(Courtesy of Kelly Coughlan)

BC (16–3, 8–1 Atlantic Coast) knocked off the Tar Heels (14–4, 7–2) while battling a downpour of rain in Charlotte, N.C., ultimately coming out on top 11–9.

“It’s for everyone that came before us,” Andrea Reynolds said. “Like all the alumni that have worked so hard to get us to this point, have come so far and to finally bring it home to Boston College, it means the world. We’re so pumped.” 

North Carolina struck first at the 12:36 mark, as a Tar Heel free-position goal slipped past Shea Dolce.

After aggressive defense from both teams, Mckenna Davis found Cassidy Weeks on the run, and she knotted the game at one just under seven minutes later.

But North Carolina took control, as the Tar Heels potted a whopping three goals in under two minutes to establish a 4–1 lead with just four shots on goal.

Davis cut the lead to two at the 2:26 mark, but the Tar Heels’ Melissa Sconone responded, beating Dolce with just 11 seconds remaining in the quarter to put North Carolina up 5–2.

The second quarter was a classic call-and-response affair as BC and the Tar Heels each exchanged two goals apiece. On a player-up opportunity, it looked as though the Eagles’ notched their third goal of the quarter, but Courtney Weeks’ goal was called back after review.

“I respect the officials,” Walker-Weinstein said. “I know they have a tough job, but I think that ball was in.” 

BC entered the third trailing by three, but cut the lead to just one goal in a span of 41 seconds. 

“We shifted our mindset in the second half, new half,” Dolce said. “We came out hot. We came out fast.”

Hunter Roman caused a North Carolina turnover and the Eagles marched down the field. Reynolds notched the first goal of the second half at the 13:15 mark. Martello added to BC’s total with a goal of her own to make it 7–6. 

“Yeah, so obviously we talked some X’s and O’s and stuff and got that out of the way,” Reynolds said of the message at halftime. “But we just knew that we had to dig deep and believe in each other. We knew that we’re all capable of it, it was a really confident and composed atmosphere.” 

But North Carolina responded with two goals of its own, and the lead was back up to three at the 7:56 mark. 

“We knew what we had to do to win, and we honestly felt like even though we were down that we had the momentum and like we’ve been in this situation before,” Reynolds said. “We had been in worse situations before so we felt pretty good.” 

Over six minutes passed before the Weeks twins brought BC within one goal. Cassidy Weeks circled the goal and went low to bring the Eagles back within two with 1:44 left in the third quarter, and Courtney scored with just 20 seconds remaining to make it 9–8 before the final quarter. 

“It’s just amazing, we just want to win this for our program,” Cassidy Weeks said of their performance together. “We’ve never brought this home before and being able to be out there together and be able to find each other, but also working with the rest of our team. … It’s just a great, a great win for our team.” 

The fourth quarter looked like a totally different contest. 

Kayla Martello earned BC’s third straight goal and tied the game at nine apiece. Just over 30 seconds later, Belle Smith gave BC its first lead of the contest. 

Reynolds extended that lead to two goals, and the BC’s defense shut the Tar Heels down, holding them scoreless en route to hoisting the ACC trophy for the first time in program history.

“It’s unreal,” Reynolds said. “It means so much. I mean, obviously UNC is an amazing team. Great players, very well coached. We know each other so well. We’ve seen each other so many times. They’ve beaten us you know in the, in the biggest stages, so it’s definitely, it’s definitely very emotional and being able to not only win ACC Championship, but beat them. It’s just, it’s amazing.” 

April 30, 2023