Lacrosse, Spring, Sports

Eagles’ Defense and Dolce’s Goalkeeping Enough for BC To Get Past Penn in Second Round of NCAA Tournament

No. 2 Boston College lacrosse has played a pretty spectacular season—it won its first ACC Championship, went 8–1 in conference play, and earned the No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament—all while trying to secure its sixth straight National Championship appearance. 

Success has clearly been a staple for the Eagles (17–3, 8–1 Atlantic Coast), which is why BC head coach Acacia Walker-Weinstein was visibly upset with her team’s performance after narrowly escaping No. 13-seed Pennsylvania (14–5, 7–0 Ivy) 9–7 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday at a packed Newton Campus.

“I think, you know, it kind of looked like we hadn’t played in two weeks,” Walker-Weinstein said. “I was a little worried about that going into the game. But hopefully now we can get back into the rhythm and look forward to Thursday.” 

A game-clinching goal from Cassidy Weeks, assisted by her sister Courtney Weeks, put BC ahead by two goals with 1:46 remaining in the game, enough to seal BC the win. But the goal, BC’s ninth of the game, marked an ending to a rough game offensively, with BC scoring six goals below its season average of 15. 

“I think, just, we need a little more focus on offense,” Cassidy Weeks said. “I think it was more on our offensive end not focusing on our shots. We had some bad throwaways towards the end. So I think just coming out and making sure we take care of the little things.” 

Cassidy Weeks continued to mention how BC may have underestimated Penn’s energy, as it played in the first round of Friday while BC had a bye. 

“It was a little difficult for us, especially since we didn’t know our opponent until two days before and they had the opportunity to play,” Cassidy Weeks said. “I think maybe we took a step back in that we thought they might be tired. So we’re definitely not going to make that mistake more than once.” 

Defense, however, kept BC’s sinking ship from capsizing. The Eagles limited Penn to just two goals in the first half and kept Penn seven goals below its goals-per-game season average.

BC notched the advantage in caused turnovers, 7–6, but each team’s defense caused havoc, as Penn turned the ball over 18 times to BC’s 15. Goalkeeper Shea Dolce’s imitation of a brick wall—she tallied eight saves—backed up BC’s defense and prevented any sort of monumental collapse.

“My defense is the backbone of this team,” Dolce said. “I make the saves I make because of them. They played unreal today, and I think it was a defensive battle. We saw a lot of time the ball was on our side a lot. So we just really persevered.” 

Walker-Weinstein praised her freshman goalkeeper’s performance in her first-ever NCAA Tournament game.  

“I think the saves that Shea was making, where, she made all the saves she needed to, and then she made some ridiculous saves that I don’t know if anybody can do,” Walker-Weinstein said.

Coming out of halftime down 5–2, Penn catapulted itself right back into the game. Anna Brandt recorded two goals in the third quarter, and Ivy League Player of the Year Niki Miles finally broke through BC’s defense for her first goal of the game at the 4:03 mark. Miles’ goal cut the Eagles’ lead to 7–5 heading into the final quarter.

Mckenna Davis quickly put BC back up by three goals with her second goal of the game, but Penn’s Kennon Moon found Dolce uncharacteristically out of the net without any backup, bringing the deficit back to two. And Miles continued her hot stretch, scoring on Dolce with 6:59 left to play in the game to cut BC’s lead to one—the smallest deficit since BC held a 2–1 lead with 2:06 left in the first quarter. 

“We weren’t so nervous, as I thought that the defense was playing a really good game and I knew that if the ball did come down on our side, when we were down by one, they would step up big,” Dolce said. 

BC’s defense did in fact hang on, and it did not allow a single shot after Miles’ second goal.

But the true turning point featured Courtney Weeks getting smacked on the head by Paige Lipman’s stick, resulting in a Penn yellow card to give BC an advantage. 

“I knew we needed to get a goal after that,” Courtney Weeks said. “And it didn’t feel good.”

Courtney Weeks found a perfectly placed Cassidy Weeks on the other side of the field, who calmly and smoothly sailed a side-armed shot to score at the 1:46 mark to essentially clinch the game. 

“We were running a play and we ended up not scoring out of it,” Courtney Weeks said. “So it was kind of a little bit of a scramble. But we had an overload on the side. I had the ball and I saw Cass on the far side. She was open, so I knew she’s a finisher. So I just gave her the ball and she was able to finish for us.” 

BC stood tall with its 9–7 lead and punched its ticket to the NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals for the sixth straight year.

May 14, 2023