While games are defined by how you play, they are determined by how you finish. Boston College lacrosse learned this lesson the hard way this Saturday in a 15-12 loss to Duke. Despite coming out very strong to start the annual Red Bandanna Game in memoriam of Welles Remy Crowther, the Eagles couldn’t hold on against a strong showing from the Blue Devils.
The Eagles (10-5, 2-5 Atlantic Coast) came into the game against Duke (7-6, 1-5) feeling confident—and they had every right to be. Before this Saturday, the Eagles had not lost at home this season and the average win margin for those six games has been 4.8 goals. Of the four losses that the Eagles have suffered so far this season, three have been against opponents ranked within the top five nationwide. Needless to say, the Eagles were confident going up against the unranked Duke at home.
This confidence showed prominently in the first half with Mary Kate O’Neill and Laura Frankenfield scoring 21 seconds apart before the game was even five minutes in. Frankenfield were able to score one more goal before the Blue Devils were able to finally put themselves on the board—after more than 15 minutes of play time.
The the first half finished with the Eagles still confidently in control, despite brief moments where the Blue Devils were able to wrestle momentum from the Eagles. At halftime, BC was up by two with eight points to Duke’s six. What can’t be shown in the score however, was the elegant way that the Eagles worked together. As BC weaved across the field it seemed that the players were acutely aware of their surroundings. The chemistry built throughout the season was on full display and resulting in a productive first half for the Eagles with three players—O’Neill, Frankenfield, and Hart—each scoring two goals and Kenzie Kent racking up three assists.
The Eagles’ momentum did not carry over to the second half. Coming out of halftime, the Eagles looked somewhat slower and the chemistry that had been so apparent in the first half was lackluster at best. Duke took advantage of this shift in the BC demeanor and within the eight minutes of the first half, the game was tied at eight. BC was able to manage a response with Frankenfield scoring her 12th goal of the season in a swift unassisted shot on the goal. Duke responded two minutes later with two consecutive goals to put Duke ahead for the first time in the game.
The Eagles mustered a response to tie the game at 10. In a case of déjà vu, the Blue Devils scored back to back goals less than two minutes after BC brought the game to within one. This cycle repeated itself twice more with any effort on the part of the Eagles to close the points gap being immediately squashed by the cohesive momentum of the Blue Devils.
BC ended the game opposite the way they started. All of the confidence and teamwork that had shined so brightly in the first half were lost in the second half of play with the two teams seeming to which countenances.
During the first half, only one of Duke’s six goals was assisted while BC had five of their eight goals scored with assistance. This switched during the second half with the Eagles only recording two assists to Duke’s seven. This further highlights the way in which BC’s chemistry seemed to fade throughout the game while Duke’s was built through time.
Another important factor is scoring bursts. In the first half, BC had two scoring bursts where two or more goals were scored consecutively without a goal being recorded by Duke. In the second half, the Eagles were only able to score one-off goals whereas eight of Duke’s nine goals were scored in bursts. This shows how the momentum totally shifted towards Duke in the second half. Regardless, head coach Acacia Walker sees positives even in the defeat.
“The girls are responding really well together with their work ethic, their studying of the game,” Walker said. “I think that they’re just gelling.”
The next game against Dartmouth should prove a good test for the Eagles to see if all of the work that they have put in this season has built something that can last or if their season will slowly begin to unravel much as the team did in the final minutes against Duke.
Featured Image by Celine Lim / Heights Staff