Lacrosse Falls in National Final to No. 1 Maryland

Boston College lacrosse

About five minutes into the second half, Boston College lacrosse had lost all the momentum.

Holding No. 1 University of Maryland to just five goals and a tie in the first half, the Terrapins’ top-ranked offense bursted out on a 5-0 run. Kenzie Kent, however, wasn’t about to give up. Spotting Kate Weeks rushing to the net for the second time in the game, Kent sent her a quick pass. Weeks shot a fast side-arm shot that made it past goalie Megan Taylor. The Eagles had the chance to still be in it, but that was just the beginning. Pushing her way to the net not only once, but twice, Kent brought it to a two-goal game. After Maryland responded, Kent fired back again with another goal and an assist to bring the game within one goal. Suddenly, the two-sport superstar from Norwell, Mass. had given the Eagles a chance to pull off a massive upset.

Unfortunately for BC, the Terrapins have a Kent of their own: Caroline Steele. Despite the Terrapins starting the first half with a goal in the first 10 seconds, the game was tied at the end of the half. A quick goal by Megan Whittle brought the Terrapins up by one, and Steele got her scoring mojo back. Seeing an opportunity from Whittle, Steele caught her pass and ripped a bouncing shot past Lauren Daly. Another goal and assist by Weeks brought the Terrapins up by four. Goals by Jen Giles and Whittle brought Maryland’s lead up to 10-5. Despite a scoring streak from the Eagles, Steele, Whittle, and Giles provided the Terrapins with the cushion they needed to win the game. With the Eagles’ defense tired, Maryland began their second offensive attack, with goals from Caroline Wannen, Taylor Hensh, Kali Hartshorn, and Steele. And by the end, it was just too much.

Despite a strong push, No. 14 BC couldn’t keep up with the best team in the nation, falling to the Terrapins, 16-13, in the National Final. Maryland’s victory capped off a 23-0 undefeated season, earning its 13th national championship in NCAA Division I Women’s Lacrosse.

The play was fierce between the Eagles and the Terrapins, with a record-setting combined score of 29 points. Strong play by the Maryland offense, which capitalized on BC turnovers and fouls, was the difference in the game. The Terrapins came out fast from the get-go, with Kali Hartshorn scoring the first goal of the game with after Zoe Stukenberg brought the ball down the field. Two minutes later, Hensh gave the Terrapins a two-goal lead, but star midfielder Sam Apuzzo tied the game up for the Eagles with two goals of her own.

Maryland, however, was always there to answer BC, setting up in the Eagles’ zone and strategically rushing to the net. Three goals in a row by Steele gave the Terrapins momentum and a two-goal lead over the Eagles, but the Eagles’ defense and goalie Zoe Ochoa prevented the game from getting out of reach. The Eagles’ defense aggressively pursued the Terrapins, forcing key offensive players to take shots farther away from the net.

More than halfway into the first, a Maryland turnover and foul allowed Kent to start a streak for the Eagles, where they were able to bring the game to a tie at 5-5, thanks to Weeks, Laura Frankenfield, and several lost balls and fouls by the Terrapins. Neither team, however, broke the tie before the half ended, making the game anyone’s for the taking.

Once again, Maryland started the half with fire, with Megan Whittle scoring in the first 20 seconds, receiving a pass from Stukenberg rushing up the field. And the goals just kept on coming. The game looked suddenly out of reach for the Eagles after a five goal streak, featuring snipes by Steele and Giles, bringing the score to 10-5. The Eagles could have let the Terrapins’ lead get away from them, but Kent wasn’t ready to back down. She found Weeks rushing to the net, and with a swift side shot that bounced through the legs of Taylor, Weeks started the Eagles’ comeback. Kent continued to push the Terrapins’ defense, pushing her way to the net and taking the game into her own hands. After Whittle extended the lead for Maryland by one, Kent fought back, scoring one and assisting Dempsey Arsenault, wide open with a clear lane to the net. What was once a five-goal lead for the Terrapins had been reduced to one. Postgame, Kent attributed the Eagles’ newfound energy to taking the game play-by-play, and head coach Acacia Walker praised their ability to get into a rhythm and stay resilient.

The Terrapins weren’t done yet, though. Goals by Wannen and Hensh were answered with a goal from Kent, but continued attack from Hartshorn, Steele, and Hensh turned the game to favor Maryland. The fatigued BC defense just couldn’t keep up with the quick Maryland attack. In Steele’s sixth goal of the game, Nadine Hadnagy outran the BC defense after picking up a turnover, and easily passed the ball to Steele. Steele then ripped a hard shot from the right of the nine-meter arch. Steele’s sixth goal of the game tied the record for most goals in a women’s national championship. Two goals from Apuzzo in the last three minutes of the game brought the score to 16-13, but they weren’t enough to catch the Terrapins.

The Eagles fell too far behind the Terrapins, which capitalized on turnovers, open lanes to the net, and a tiring BC defense. The Eagles weren’t able to take the lead the entire game, and were stuck playing catch-up every time they got close. Despite the loss, the Eagles, led by Kent, who received Most Outstanding Player, put forth an extraordinary effort to keep the Terrapins at bay. Even though the Eagles were only ranked No. 14 going into the tournament, they have proved they belong with the best. They have much to be proud of in their accomplishments this season, and for players like Apuzzo, Hart, and Kent, it seems like just the beginning.

“I think we’re in good hands,” Walker said of the future.

Featured Image by Keith Carroll / Heights Staff