Lacrosse, Spring, Top Story, Sports

BC Finds Redemption Against Northwestern With Second National Championship Title in Program History

After ending the first quarter with a 6–0 lead over No. 2 Boston College lacrosse, it seemed like No. 1 Northwestern was on track to run away with the 2024 national championship matchup, just one season after the Wildcats trampled BC 18–6 for the 2023 title

But that did not happen. This year’s rematch proved to be different for the Eagles as they earned BC’s second national championship win

In the final minutes of the fourth frame, BC (21–3, 7–2 Atlantic Coast) narrowly defeated the former national champion Northwestern (18–3, 5–1 Big Ten) 14–13 in Cary, N.C. The win marked BC head coach Acacia Walker-Weinstein’s second win through seven straight national championship appearances.

“I am so proud of our team and the people that make something like this happen,” Walker-Weinstein said. “And I’m so proud of the girls. I am so proud of the seniors. I asked them to lead the way this season, and they did just that. It’s so difficult to do what they did today against a team like Northwestern, but I’m just so proud of them and to see their dedication and unselfishness pay off.”

Much of the game, however, proved to be in Northwestern’s control. 

In the first 15 minutes of play, the Wildcats held BC scoreless, capitalizing off free-position shots and BC’s missed defensive stops. 

“We practiced being down in practice and those scenarios, so there was never really any doubt that we were going to come back from a 6–0 deficit,” Mckenna Davis said. “We knew what we needed to do. We executed it and followed our game plan. We were ready for that moment.” 

It wasn’t until the second frame when the trajectory of the game changed, and the Eagles began to produce offensively. 

“I love our offense,” Walker-Weinstein said. “It’s unselfish. It’s together. Our girls dug in and knew how to move the ball, and I think it’s a reflection of who they are as people. They’re unselfish, and they’ll do whatever it takes to win.” 

Emma LoPinto responded for BC, and did not look back for the rest of the game. With 9:44 left to play in the second quarter, LoPinto completed an almost exact replica of her goal in Friday’s semifinal matchup against Syracuse with a quick behind-the-back shot that sailed past Northwestern’s Molly Laliberty. 

“Those are the little things that you practice in your backyard,” LoPinto said. “I love throwing behind-the-backs around the world. It’s something that I’m comfortable doing with my stick. It’s all back to my teammates because their faith and their trust always allows me to do that.”

Less than five minutes later, with 5:19 left to play in the second frame, Andrea Reynolds fired the ball into the upper right hand corner of the Wildcats’ goal off a free-position shot, making it a 6–2 game.

Fifty seconds later, Kayla Martello followed suit. And she was only getting started, as she concluded the second quarter with four goals. 

As the Eagles walked into the locker room at halftime, the scoreboard read 8–6, and a BC comeback appeared to be in the works. 

Less than two minutes into the third frame, Ryan Smith brought the Eagles within one.

Madison Taylor re-established a two-goal Northwestern lead and Izzy Scane nailed home a goal for Northwestern with 6:54 left in the third to make it 10–7.

For the next few minutes, Northwestern and BC appeared to go punch-for-punch. Despite having just .4 seconds left on the clock in the third quarter, Davis beat the buzzer with a clutch short-handed goal to bring the score to 10–9 Northwestern.  

BC tied the Wildcats for the first and last time in the matchup with 11:05 left in the game, and from that moment on, it was the Eagles’ show. 

With 5:55 left to play in the affair, BC had notched a Reynolds and another Martello goal, to make it 13–11.

Northwestern cut BC’s lead back to one less than a minute later, and it wasn’t until BC’s final goal of the matchup with 4:03 to play off a Davis shot that a BC victory seemed imminent. 

The next three minutes involved a game of BC keep-away from Northwestern defenders and missed shots from the Wildcats.  

None of this last-minute intensity fazed the Eagles. 

“We invite that intensity,” Belle Smith said. “Acacia always says, ‘We want the hardest route, that is Boston College lacrosse.’ We want to not only handle hard, but to make it happen. That is exactly what we did with 50 seconds left on the clock.” 

Even though Scane added one more before the end of the game, Sydney Scales commanded the Eagles’ defense in the closing minutes.

“I am so grateful to be a part of a defense led by Sydney Scales,” Belle Smith said. “She is the backbone of the team. I trusted her with 30 seconds on the clock, and I knew we were making a stop and winning that game.” 

Shea Dolce also made the difference in the cage. As the clock wound down from 28 seconds, Dolce made her final save, deflecting a Dylan Amonte shot. As the buzzer sounded, a sea of maroon and gold crowded the field in celebration of the program’s first national championship win in three years. 

“I think the losses along the way were part of the process,” Walker-Weinstein said. “I think maybe I and our staff needed to be hardened a bit to be ready for this moment. And here today, we are on the other side of it.” 

Just as the Class of 2024 had hoisted the national championship trophy as freshmen beginning their college lacrosse careers in 2021, many were doing the same ending their careers at BC in 2024. 

“Freshman year, we came in and won the national championship without the expectation of it,” Smith said. “When you win it your first year, you don’t really understand the heartache of either winning or losing it. Losing it the last two years, we wanted to win so badly, not only for ourselves and our senior class to end, but for everyone else on the team. We are so honored. It was a complete team win. This team has more love than any other team I have been a part of, and we can finally say again we are national champions and the best team in the country.”

Martello, who was awarded the matchup’s MVP, expressed a similar sentiment. 

“I think that I’m with the most special girls in the country,” Martello said. “I think Acacia did an amazing job finding us and bringing us together. Obviously, since our freshman year, we have been hungry for this. It’s amazing to have the younger girls get that feeling of winning a national championship while we are here since we won one when we were young and we know how helpful that can be going forward.”

After last year’s matchup, the roles finally reversed. 

“I’ve been thinking about [the loss to Northwestern] every single day since last year,” Dolce said. “And that’s a moment that I wanted back. And, sure enough, we are in the same position this year. We’ve been mentally ready for it since that last game. It means the world that we can be on the flip side and have this moment. It’s a dream come true.”

May 27, 2024

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