Six straight National Championship appearances, and yet there is still just one trophy to show for what has been a run of the ages for Boston College lacrosse.
Because for the fifth time in six years, the Eagles watched from the sidelines as the opposing team etched its name in lacrosse history and hoisted the National Championship trophy above its head.
“You know we, like on this team, the expectations are to win it all,” BC head coach Acacia Walker-Weinstein said. “So it’s a disappointment, but I’m also really proud. We did do some things that the program’s never done before so I think we moved it forward, which is great for Boston College lacrosse and Boston College.”
What would have been a storybook ending for BC’s historic season instead ended in a blowout defeat. On a rainy and cloudy day in Cary, N.C., the No. 3-seed Eagles (19–4, 8–1 Atlantic Coast) recorded one of their worst offensive performances and fell 18–6 to No. 1-seed Northwestern (21–1, 6–0 Big 10) for the second time this season.
“I’m so proud of our team and our players and our leadership and our ability to get here,” Walker-Weinstein said. “And you know, sports are tough—you don’t always get to end your season with a win. But I’m really proud of the program and everyone who helped us get here.”
With just 19 total shots to Northwestern’s 42, eight draw controls to the Wildcats’ 17, and 21 turnovers, BC was unable to claw itself out of an early hole.
Just like its matchup less than 48 hours prior to Sunday’s game against Syracuse, the Eagles got off to a slow start, and Northwestern took advantage. Two free-position opportunities for Madison Taylor allowed Northwestern to jump out to a 2–0 lead just six minutes into the contest.
“Basically just, you know, they kind of weren’t really sliding off me,” Taylor said. “And, you know, like Erin [Coykendall] came up to me just like ‘you got this, they’re not sliding to you, if they want a freshman to just score, let them because you could do it.’”
Meanwhile, on offense, the Eagles could not gain any momentum. BC recorded just four shots in the quarter while notching six turnovers. The Wildcats, on the other hand, extended their lead to three goals with 48 seconds remaining in the quarter.
BC, however, woke up at the beginning of the second quarter. Kayla Martello ended BC’s scoring drought with an across-the-body rocket directly to the back of Northwestern’s net at the 10:13 mark, and less than a minute later, Belle Smith launched a quick shot on the run to make it 3–2.
But that was as close as BC would come in the entirety of the game.
Goal, goal, goal. The Wildcats responded with three unanswered goals that slipped by Shea Dolce, including a goal from Izzy Scane with just over 25 seconds remaining in the half.
BC’s 12 first-half turnovers and nine total shots—including just one from the Eagles’ leading scorer Jenn Medjid—allowed the Wildcats to establish a 6–2 lead at halftime and make a high-powered offense look lost.
“I think Northwestern played a really aggressive backer defense and, you know, they had a really great day,” Walker-Weinstein said. “I think you have to give them a ton of credit for that style of defense. It was tough to combat that, and our girls did the best they could.”
Just 48 seconds into the third quarter, Taylor completed her hat trick, and at the 12:00 mark the Wildcats established a daunting six-goal lead with complete control of the game.
Martello snapped the 5–0 run with her second goal, but just over three minutes later, Taylor’s fourth goal gave Northwestern a 9–3 lead.
With seven straight draw controls in the third quarter, dominating possession, Northwestern pushed its lead to eight goals before Belle Smith cut it to seven in the final minute. And in the fourth quarter, the draw control streak continued to nine straight.
Samantha Smith and Samantha White were at the forefront of the Wildcats’ draw controls, recording 15 total to keep BC’s offense at bay throughout the entire game.
“Sam and Sammy are best of friends, and they both had incredible impact on this game today,” Northwestern head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller said. “It was a great day for those two, two sophomores just doing their thing.”
An empty-net, free-position goal 54 seconds into the fourth quarter for Northwestern essentially iced the game. The Wildcats lightly tossed the ball into the net to make it a 12–4 advantage, and from that point on, the game was all but over.
Northwestern ran up the score and added six more goals to its total. While BC scored two goals itself, there was no fourth-quarter comeback this time around, and the Eagles’ 13-game win streak, and season, came to a close.
“The ultimate goal, really, is to spend time with really good people and shape the people that are playing for us so that they can go and be incredible people in the world and great siblings and daughters and wives and business owners and, you know, that’s ultimately what we want,” Walker-Weinstein said. “So although we didn’t achieve the National Championship, I know that we achieved these other things.”