Sports, Spring, Lacrosse

“The Expectation is to Win Another Conference Championship and National Championship:” Previewing the 2024 BC Lacrosse Season

Last year, Boston College lacrosse made program history, again, winning its first ACC Championship in program history and reaching a sixth straight national championship. The plan for this year, according to the team, is simply to do it all over again, but at the end raise two trophies instead of one.

“The expectation is to win another conference championship and national championship,” BC head coach Acacia Walker-Weinstein said. “I think this group is fully capable of it, but we’ll have to see and work day by day to figure it out.”

BC went 19–4 in the 2023 season, capturing the ACC Championship in a win over North Carolina before ultimately losing 18–6 to Northwestern in its sixth straight trip to the national championship. Entering the season ranked No. 2 in the IWLCA preseason poll, the Eagles will look to win their first NCAA championship since beating Syracuse 16–10 for the title in 2021. 

The Eagles have reloaded with four transfers and seven freshmen joining 24 returning players to round out the 2024 roster.

“I think that the young freshman and the transfers always bring in this, like, rejuvenated energy and passion that I think is oftentimes a really great spark,” Walker-Weinstein said.

After spending the last two years at Virginia, Rachel Clark joined the Eagles as a junior. The 2021–22 ACC Freshman of the Year, Clark led the Cavaliers with 63 goals and 76 points, making 2023’s All-ACC first-team. Joining Clark in attack is junior Emma LoPinto, who tallied 125 goals and 187 points in two seasons at Florida, making 2023’s All-AAC first-team

Another former Gator joining the Eagles’ roster is Becky Browndorf. The graduate defender notched a career-high 22 caused turnovers and 21 ground balls in the 2023 season. Finally, Norwell, Mass. native Julia Greene also joins the Eagles defense after four seasons at Stanford, winning two Pac-12 titles in her time there. 

Another star-studded freshman class features three five-star recruits, all of whom were rated in the top-10 overall and in the top six of midfielders. BC’s top recruit is Lydia Colasante, rated No. 4 overall and the No. 3 midfielder. In high school, Colasante was a three-time All-American who finished with 311 goals and 454 points, leading The Tatnall School to a 2023 Delaware state title. 

Kylee Colbert and Lacey Downey make up the rest of the five-star midfielder trio. They both were three-time USA All-Americans and were rated the No. 6 and No. 8 overall players, respectively. 

The group already appears particularly noteworthy, according to Walker-Weinstein.

“I think with our group of girls returning and the new group that we have in, I think they’re a really special group,” Walker-Weinstein said. “I think there’s a lot of really good leadership.” 

The captains for the 2024 season are Belle Smith, Ryan Smith, and Sydney Scales. The trio of seniors have experience winning at BC, as all are members of the national championship winning team in 2021 and the first BC team to win the ACC Championship in the 2023 season. According to Walker-Weinstein, it’s their desire to win again that will make them strong captains. 

“The word that always comes to my mind is urgency,” Walker-Weinstein said. “It’s like a really good leadership quality, and I think the three of them individually and as a whole, they embody urgency.”

Belle Smith will be one to watch for the Eagles in 2024. The senior was a consensus first-team All-American and was named ACC Midfielder of the Year in 2023 with 52 goals and 83 points. She was recently named USA Lacrosse Magazine Preseason Midfielder of the Year.

Ryan Smith had a career year in 2023, scoring a personal-best nine goals and finishing with 10 points. She also posted a career-high 90 draw controls in 23 games for the Eagles—tied for 10th all-time at BC in draw controls in a single season.

Scales is also coming off a career season, being named the ACC Defender of the Year. Her experience and effectiveness at ground balls and causing turnovers will be important, as the Eagles will look to continue the strong defensive play seen in the 2023 season. 

Seven other BC players joined Belle Smith and Scales as USA Lacrosse Preseason All-Americans. Included was sophomore Shea Dolce, who took over in net for the Eagles last season. In 22 games, she made 128 saves with a .457 save percentage, en route to accolades like ACC Freshman of the Year and ACC Tournament MVP. Dolce was the first freshman goalie to start for the Eagles since 2016. 

The success on the team is strong, with All-Americans and ACC award winners at nearly every position for the Eagles. But according to Walker-Weinstein, the senior class is the group to watch both on and off the field. 

“I am blown away at the talent we have,” Walker-Weinstein said. “And I just think that this is a really critical senior class, and I would keep an eye out for how impactful they’re going to be on the field. And I think throughout the season, people will learn how impactful they are off the field.”

The team may boast many fresh faces, but Walker-Weinstein believes the confidence and drive to reach a seventh straight national championship game is still apparent. 

“I do because I see how hard they’re working,” Walker-Weinstein said. “And I see how they’re responding to each other and to the coaches and to the expectations, and I do think there’s a sense of confidence.” 

The Eagles open the season on Friday, Feb. 9, versus UMass Amherst at Fish Field House. The Minutemen were ranked No. 20 in IWLCA’s preseason poll and are coming off a 16–3 season, losing to Johns Hopkins in the NCAA Tournament.

The most highly anticipated regular season game will be on Thursday, Feb. 29, when BC hosts Northwestern in a rematch of last year’s national championship game. The Wildcats enter the season as the No. 1 team in the IWLCA’s preseason poll with many of their championship winning players returning under head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller. Under Hiller’s leadership, she has coached Northwestern to eight NCAA championships. 

Other notable matchups for the Eagles include the annual Red Bandanna Game against Notre Dame on Saturday, March 16, a rematch of the ACC Championship game against North Carolina on Saturday, March 30, and the final regular season game against Syracuse on Thursday, April 18. North Carolina and Syracuse were ranked No. 3 and No. 5, respectively, on IWCLA’s preseason poll. BC will host all three of those games at Alumni Stadium.

February 4, 2024