Boston College sophomore goalie Zoe Ochoa’s eyes lit up as she talked after the game. She was brimming with energy, despite having just played 60 minutes of lacrosse, as she bounced from talking with teammates to coaches to members of the athletic department. Her boundless exuberance contrasted with the controlled intensity she had just employed to shut down the University of Colorado, leading the Eagles (10-0, 4-0 ACC) to a 17-9 victory over the Buffalo (4-3, 0-0 Pac-12).
Colorado’s offense was led by sophomore attack Johnna Fusco, who scored four of the Buffalo’s nine goals, all on free position shots. Three of Fusco’s goals came in the second half, each of them from the same side of the crease. Each time as Fusco lined up, preparing to charge at the whistle, Ochoa set herself up, preparing to counter whatever move Fusco was going to make.
Each time, Fusco beat Ochoa, going to the same spot—down by Ochoa’s right leg. Ochoa, keeping her stick high and to her left side, couldn’t get down in time to block it. The third time Fusco scored, Ochoa jumped in frustration after the ball hit the net. The fourth time, Ochoa could only pound the ground and shake her head. Thankfully for Ochoa, Fusco didn’t get another opportunity.
What was good news for the Eagles was bad news for the Buffalo—UC was 5-for-5 on free positions, but on their other 20 shots, Ochoa made 11 saves. It was like watching a slow, inexorable march of doom for the Buffalo. Ochoa was locked in, sliding over to block bounce shots and keeping her stick up to knock away shots up high. Perhaps her best save of the day came with the Eagles up just 12-9 with 6:30 left. BC had given up two straight goals, and a third would give Colorado all the momentum going into the home stretch.
After the game, Ochoa discussed her mindset, saying “I try to stay as focused as I can every game. Try to take each goal one at a time, and if one gets in try to have a short-term memory and get the next one.”
Buffalo freshman middie Blair Sisk had looked dangerous all game, though she only had one goal to show for it (coincidentally, Buffalo’s only other free position shot). Sisk earned another free position, but with a bad angle, decided the safer play would be to pass to teammate Carly Cox, who was coming around directly next to the crease. Cox received the pass and let the ball fly in one fluid motion. She was too late to see how quickly Ochoa had repositioned herself and reached out her stick towards Cox, enveloping any space the freshman attack thought she might have had. The ball had nowhere to go, as Ochoa had slammed the door on the Buffalo’s attack.
At the other end of the field, Mikaela Rix put her foot on the gas pedal and pushed it to the floor. Rix ran by the defender, leaving her in the dust before deking UC goalie Paige Soenksen out of her shoes. This goal opened the floodgates, as BC poured on four more goals before time ran out.
While Rix was once again the stalwart leading the goal-scoring-machine that is the Eagles, contributions came from many different places. Most notably, Caroline Margolis scored twice and assisted on four other goals, equaling Rix’s six points on the day. Mary Kate O’Neill scored three times, while Tess Chandler scored twice and assisted on another.
BC head coach Acacia Walker remarked on her multifaceted attack after the game. “There are so many threats on the field that it naturally sort of spreads out—we’ve been focused on adding more assists to our game, so I think they’re playing with their heads up a little bit,” she said.
With Kenzie Kent due to start practicing today, she simply adds another talented stick for opposing defenses to worry about on a team already loaded with them.
As her team moves forward, Walker stresses their issues instead of their successes, saying her team takes the season one game at a time and never rests on its laurels. “We still have a lot to work on,” Walker said, “I think the girls know that, they’re humble, they know that there are so many holes in our game still, that we have to focus.”
As for Ochoa, she embodies that spirit, with Walker praising her work ethic and her constant improvement since becoming the starter at the end of last season. “She really has gotten herself locked in mentally,” Walker asserted. “She’s just such a hardworking kid, and she’s been the backbone of our team the whole year.”
With BC moving towards a date with No. 5/7 UVA on Saturday, Ochoa becomes an irreplaceable cog on the Eagles, who hope she can continue to show that same focus and results on the field, and the same liveliness and vigor off the field.
Featured Image by Arthur Bailin / Heights Editor