Previewing 2018 Lacrosse: National Championship vs. James Madison

boston college lacrosse

Well, this is it. It’s been a year and Boston College lacrosse finally has a chance to erase the pain of last year’s title game loss, having knocked off Princeton, Stony Brook, and Maryland, en route to a second-straight National Championship appearance. The Eagles (22-1, 7-0 Atlantic Coast), with a lone loss on the season, avoid the team that dealt it to them—North Carolina—and instead face off against James Madison, a team that made an unlikely run out of the Colonial Athletic Association. The Dukes (20-1, 6-0 CAA) knocked off two top-10 teams—Florida and the Tar Heels—on their way to the championship game.

Who is BC playing?

James Madison

When is BC playing?

Sunday, May 27, 12 p.m.

Where is BC playing?

Kenneth P. Lavalle Stadium, Stony Brook, N.Y.

How to Watch:

The game will be broadcasted on ESPNU and available to stream online at WatchESPN.

By the Numbers:

BC:

1) Sam Apuzzo was held to a lone goal in the first half against Maryland, continuing her trend of low-impact games as opposing defenses locked in on her—the Tewaaraton Award finalist managed just six total points across the first two rounds. Apuzzo woke up, though, and rattled off three second-half goals, including the decisive final two of the game.

2) The Eagles’ run through the tournament hasn’t been a breeze—they won the first three games by a combined nine goals. That mark is a far cry from where BC was entering the title game a year ago, where it reached the final with a plus-18 goal differential. What that means? To be determined, but the Eagles have proved they have what it takes when the going gets tough late in matchups.

3) Over the course of the year, BC has established a characteristic resilience, and it was on full display Friday night. The Eagles went down, 6-2, early to the defending champions and didn’t bat an eye, battling back for the win. It was the same story with Stony Brook in the Elite Eight, where they trailed, 11-8, but escaped with the overtime victory. It’s something to keep an eye on if the Dukes seize an early lead—BC fans have no reason to panic.

JMU:

1)  The Dukes boasted four multi-goal scorers in the win over the Tar Heels to advance, a diverse attack that has been firing on all cylinders this season. JMU—the 12th-best offensive team in the nation—ranks just a hair behind the Eagles in scoring and has six players with 25-plus goals.

2) The player to watch for JMU is obvious on the surface, as Kristen Gaudian is a Tewaaraton Award finalist after putting together a 77-goal, 16-assist season. However, when Gaudian is limited like Apuzzo was early, the Dukes have several capable second options. Against UNC, it was Haley Warden pacing the offense, as the midfielder totaled five goals.

3) BC, alongside Stony Brook, piled up the wins in the regular season, but the hottest team down the stretch has arguably been the Dukes. They have won 13 games in a row, 10 more than any other team in the country. The streak includes ranked victories over UNC, Florida, Towson (twice), and Virginia.

Last Meeting:

All the way back in 1993, when a gallon of gas was just over a dollar, JMU knocked off BC, 16-9, in the penultimate game of the regular season. The Eagles were a year removed from forming their program, and wrapped up the season four games under .500. It was one of three sub-.500 years for head coach Sherren Granese, who manned the helm for just four years.

Outlook:

With wins over Stony Brook and Maryland, two heavyweights and early title favorites, BC has a strong chance at taking home its first National Championship. The Dukes are making their first appearance in the final game of the year, a striking similarity to the Eagles of a season ago. It’s a matchup that’s good for the sport, two teams vying for their first-ever championships, and has the potential to be a high-octane, back-and-forth affair. The favorite? It’s almost too close to call. 5Dimes is one of the only websites that offers betting lines for the women’s lacrosse postseason, and it has the Dukes as very slight favorites (the moneyline is BC -110, JMU -130). The teams are nearly identical—JMU is 12th in offense, sixth in defense while BC is 11th and eighth, respectively—so expect a narrow win for whoever emerges on top.

Featured Image by Keith Carroll / Heights Editor

About Bradley Smart 131 Articles
Bradley is the associate sports editor for The Heights. He believes that America does truly run on Dunkin, March is the best month, baseball teams should always wear stirrups, and being down 3-1, in anything, is never cause for concern. You can follow him on Twitter @bradleysmart15.