There was a chance, but time was slipping away.
The scant warmth of the sun had yielded to the bitter darkness fringing Alumni Stadium, but under the blazing Thursday night lights, the Boston College women’s lacrosse team was relentless, desperately trying to scrape back into its game against the University of North Carolina.
After falling into a six-goal fissure in the second half, BC had scored three unanswered goals in less than three minutes to make the score 13-10.
And so, with just a few minutes remaining, the Eagles had a free position shot and the chance to pull the game within two goals. The BC bench huddled and hopped, their excitement palpable, and junior Covie Stanwick stared at the net, focused, and took the shot. Stanwick already had two goals on the night, but the hat trick wasn’t meant to be—she couldn’t find twine, and it was over for the Eagles: The Tar Heels ran out the clock and buried an empty-netter to knock BC out of the first round of the ACC Tournament 14-10.
“It was a tough loss for us—I think we were pretty prepared for the game, but Carolina’s just very, very strong,” said BC head coach Acacia Walker. “They have so many threats, they have so much speed, and we have to put a 60-minute game together to beat a team like that.”
The battle between the maroon and blue jerseys began as a run-and-gun shootout—seven goals were scored in the first 10 minutes—but settled into a possession-heavy game determined by defensive ability. While both teams scored dynamic goals highlighted by ankle-crushing spin moves and basketball-esque alley-oop put downs, UNC’s defense and goaltending proved superior to BC’s.
“We won the little battles, like the ground balls, [we] didn’t have too many turnovers, and [we] capitalized on our opportunities,” said UNC head coach Jenny Levy. “I thought on the offensive end we controlled the tempo, we played the way we wanted to play. On the defensive end I thought we did a great job playing a team game, and between the lines we cleared the ball effectively.”
BC dominated the early moments of the game, scoring three of the first four goals before UNC stormed back with a pair of goals from senior Abbey Friend and a score from freshman Maggie Bill. As the game settled into a steadier rhythm, UNC began to build an edge.
The Eagles were patient in the zone, but the Tar Heels’ defense was excellent, sticking like glue as BC worked the ball around time and time again, methodologically taking away shooting lanes and limiting clear-cut opportunities.
“Like any game, you’ve got to get into it, and both teams are feeling each other out, what the defensive game plan looks like, and then settling in,” Levy said. “The first couple of goals I wasn’t really concerned, I thought we just needed to settle down and make some adjustments.”
Freshman goalie Caylee Waters played the first half in net for UNC, making two saves on nine shots, and sophomore Megan Ward had a dominant second frame for the Tar Heels, making six saves on 12 BC shots, a few of which came from point-blank.
Junior Mikaela Rix led the Eagles’ offense, scoring four times and assisting once, and her UNC counterpoint was Friend, who took BC for five goals and a helper.
The BC defense struggled throughout the game, and BC’s five second period turnovers didn’t help the cause. UNC’s attackers shredded BC defensively, and both Eagles goalies struggled—Emily Mata and Zoe Ochoa combined to make four saves on the night.
When the clock reached zero, the Eagles were 12-5 and had fallen victim to the conference death trap again. BC’s hopes of becoming ACC champions are over, but despite the loss, the Eagles’ campaign will continue when the NCAA Tournament comes around.
“The season’s not over, and there’s a lot to look forward to and a lot of time to get better,” Walker said. “So I told my girls that you can be disappointed, but tomorrow we have to get back on our feet and learn how to be better.”