As Acacia Walker sat down, she grabbed the hands of her scoring leader, Kate Weeks. The other three players present—Kenzie Kent, Kaileen Hart, and Lauren Daly—all sat starry-eyed in amazement of their team’s accomplishment. But Weeks was closer to tears.
“Oh my god, Coach,” Weeks said to Walker, “this is crazy!”
Walker comforted her. “This is real.”
For the first time in program history, a Final Four is real for Boston College lacrosse. Led by an offensive clinic from Kent, No. 14 BC dominated the No. 7 University of Southern California, the second-best defense in the nation, with a 20-14 Elite Eight victory at the Newton Campus Lacrosse and Soccer Field. The Eagles will face the United States Naval Academy on Memorial Day Weekend at Gillette Stadium, after the Midshipwomen upset No. 1 North Carolina.
“USC is a team that you have to be excellent to beat,” Walker said. “It’s a great day.”
The Eagles (16-6) came out strong against their West Coast foes, led by Kent, a modern day Bo Jackson who also stars on BC women’s hockey’s first line. She opened the scoring after a feed from Kate Weeks on a free position attempt down low past USC (18-4) goaltender Gussie Johns. Emma Schurr followed the goal up with a leaping shot of her own over a Trojan defender. Exactly two minutes later, Weeks got her first of the game and 70th of the season from the free position, causing USC head coach Lindsey Munday to call a timeout.
Drew Jackson and Kaeli Huff scored following the timeout, but that couldn’t stop the bleeding. Weeks, Hart, Sam Apuzzo, and Kayla O’Connor each scored over the next 10 minutes to open up a commanding lead. When O’Connor notched one on a sharp feed from Hart at 4:10 left in the first half, the Eagles had scored their eighth goal in 25 minutes. Prior to this game, the Trojans had only allowed 7.52 goals per game.
“They run a really disciplined zone,” Walker said of the USC defense. “I think there’s a lot of strategy out there.”
USC desperately needed any momentum it could get. Kylie Drexel was happy to provide it.
With 7.1 seconds remaining in the first half, Drexel burst down the field, caught in a mix of defenders, before going into a dive. Her last-ditch attempt at a shot somehow got past Zoe Ochoa in net, cutting BC’s lead to just four.
But, as they had all game long, the Eagles had an answer.
After the ensuing faceoff, Laura Frankenfield saw Schurr streaking down toward Johns, who doubles as the U.S. National Team’s goaltender. Schurr let the ball fly as the horn sounded for a goal right at the end of the half. Instead of losing the flow of their Elite Eight matchup against the Trojans, the Eagles hopped, skipped, and hugged to the bench—Walker noted this as one of the major moments in the game.
The Trojans came out firing in the second half, with goals by Huff and Cynthia Del Core in the first minute to cut BC’s lead to three. Like with Schurr’s goal, the Eagles stymied USC’s ability to get on a strong run. The Trojans never scored more than two consecutive goals—twice in the game, Hart stopped the USC rally. Kent noted this as one of the major factors for BC to win.
“One of our main focuses was not to get a lull in the game,” Kent said. “Every time they started to get going, we tried not to let that lull happen.”
It helped that the Eagles had a dynamic scorer like Kent to lead the charge. The junior set a new career-high with six goals, the highlight being a breakaway off a faceoff in which Weeks made a perfect, lofting pass. By coming in the middle of the season, Kent frees up opportunities for Apuzzo and Weeks, the program’s top two in single-season scoring with over 70 goals each. According to Walker, Kent makes a very good offense an unstoppable one.
“The girls love her, and she makes it really easy to come join us halfway,” Walker said. “It just adds to the task of any defense.”
USC attempted a comeback when, with 5:17 to go, Michaela Michael, the team’s leading scorer, notched her first goal of the game to cut the lead to four. But the Trojans would never get any closer. Weeks and Apuzzo each scored in the game’s closing minutes to put it squarely out of reach, and the Eagles flew off the bench. Now, they’ll fly all the way to Gillette for BC’s best-ever chance at the University’s first national championship by a non-hockey program.
“We knew we had to bring our best game,” Weeks said, emotional again at the thought of keeping the Eagles’ season alive. “We want another week with our best friends.”
Featured Image by Amelie Trieu / Heights Editor