In each of its past three games, the Boston College women’s lacrosse team has gotten off to a slow start. Against Holy Cross, however, that wasn’t a problem. The Eagles immediately jumped out in front 2-0, then 4-1. BC’s lead was 6-2 by halftime, which it used as a springboard to trounce the Crusaders on Newton Campus, 11-5.
The Eagles were in control of the game almost from the initial horn, as they scored their first goal just over two minutes in and never let the Crusaders tie it up.
“It’s definitely been a part of our goals in the last couple weeks to come out stronger,” said BC head coach Acacia Walker. By the time 10 minutes had elapsed in the second half, the Eagles had put away four more goals to essentially end the game. BC’s final goal came with 12:05 remaining. Although BC had some chances afterward, it was mainly concerned with running out the clock.
The Eagles accomplished this scoring outburst without their leading point-scorer, Covie Stanwick, on the field. With Stanwick out, the Eagles turned to the remaining players in their stable of scorers. Kate Weeks notched a goal and an assist on BC’s first two scores of the second half to make her presence known.
“Kate Weeks brings a lot of power, she’s got a lot of confidence, so it was really good to get her out there,” Walker said. “She’s a threat all over the place, so it was exciting for her.” Weeks didn’t get on the score sheet again, but she was a constant and active threat for the remainder of the game.
Mikaela Rix was once again the crux for the BC offense, leading both teams with four points from three goals and an assist. In the span of 23 seconds, Rix notched two goals in two completely different ways. Her first goal came when Rix outran the entire Holy Cross team down almost the full length of the field before calmly bouncing a shot past Holy Cross goalie Sarah Weber. The second came when Rix beat her defender going to her left. When she got in close enough to the crease, Rix ripped a left-handed shot into the upper right corner of the net.
What made the biggest difference for the Eagles in this game, however, was their defensive prowess.
“Holy Cross has a bunch of threats, and we knew they were gonna be good today, and they were gonna bring their best game,” Walker said. “So we asked our girls for a really energized, really consistent defense, staying true to what we do.”
BC’s relentless pressure came from everywhere. No matter where the Crusaders were on the field, they were powerless to escape it. Twice in the game the Eagles were able to create a turnover as Holy Cross was attempting a clear, which the Eagles were able to convert on quickly.
The first came in the first half, as Moira Barry intercepted a pass in BC’s offensive zone and was essentially able to walk in on Weber before putting the ball in the net. In the second half, it was Weeks forcing the turnover. Weeks caused the ground ball, recovered it, and was able to find Brooke Blue streaking down the left side. A quick shot fake got Weber to bit, and Blue slotted it home on the far side of the net.
When unable to create those turnovers, the Eagles were still solid defensively. Their man-to-man defense was unbreakable for the Crusaders’ shooters, and any attempts to drive on net were quickly thwarted and turned aside. The help defense created an impenetrable wall time and again. Where the Eagles were at their best, however, was their ability to stick-check the Crusaders. At every opportunity, the Eagles hacked away at Holy Cross sticks, knocking the ball out. They created ground balls-turnover opportunities that the Eagles cashed in on.
The Eagles also continued their trend of playing defense by playing offense, their measured attack continually draining the clock and robbing Holy Cross of more offensive opportunities.
Even as time was winding down, the game already in hand, Walker was audible on the sideline, pushing her team even harder, directing its attack, and squeezing every last bit of pressure out of her defense. Although BC had fixed its case of the early yips, Walker wasn’t satisfied with just starting strong-she wanted her team to take control and keep control for the full game.
“We’re asking our girls for 60 full minutes of BC lacrosse,” Walker said. “I don’t think we’re there yet-we’re climbing this mountain, and we’ll figure it out, and we’ll get there at some point, and I think once we put 60 minutes together, we’ll have stronger wins, and we’ll have more of them.”
Walker’s team won’t have to wait long for its next opportunity to play a complete game-it faces another tough test on Saturday afternoon in Durham against the top-10 ranked Duke Blue Devils. To win, the Eagles will need to start and finish strongly.