Behind Strong Defensive Effort, BC Clinches First-Ever ACC Regular Season Title

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For the first time all season, Boston College lacrosse failed to eclipse the 12-goal mark, on Saturday afternoon against Virginia Tech. In fact, head coach Acacia Walker-Weinstein’s team didn’t even reach double digits. But, just like they have every game this year, the Eagles found a way to win. Sam Apuzzo scored three second-half goals, and Lauren Daly held down the fort on the other end, securing the program’s 16th-straight victory—a 9-7 decision—and, at the bare minimum, a share of its first-ever ACC regular season title.

Coming into the game, the No. 2 Eagles (16-0, 6-0 Atlantic Coast) boasted the second-best scoring offense in the nation, averaging 16.67 goals per contest. But the No. 13 Hokies (11-5, 4-2) held BC in check, from start to finish, forcing the Eagles to lean on their defense more so than usual.

Even so, the first half was controlled by BC, which converted three of its five free-position opportunities. That said, VTech scored the first goal of the game, capitalizing on an effective clear and fastbreak opportunity. The Hokies passed the ball effortlessly up the field, setting up a free shot in front of the goal for midfielder Marissa Davey. The scoring play marked the senior’s 21st goal of the season, but was the only lead the Hokies had in the half.

After the goal, BC responded with a three-goal flurry in a span of only eight minutes. Kaileen Hart scored the first two, while Tess Chandler added the third. VTech star Paige Petty then decreased the lead by scoring her team-leading 41st goal of the season. Before the half ended, however, BC tacked on two more. Dempsey Arsenault found the back of the net on a free-position shot, while Apuzzo scored only a minute prior to intermission with her first shot of the game. The Eagles took the 5-2 lead into the break with confidence.

The second half was as thrilling as it gets. It started aggressively with BC players picking up two yellow cards in the first five minutes, setting the tone for the period. VTech’s Mary Claire Byrne and Julia Bolte responded by scoring two-consecutive goals to cut its deficit to one. That’s when the back-and-forth affair truly began.

The teams traded goals, starting with BC. The Eagles went up two, only to see the Hokies climb back within one. Apuzzo—the nation’s leading scorer—tied off a hat trick, while Davey and Petty added to their tallies for the Hokies. This seesaw exchange peaked when Taylor Caskey knotted it all up at seven, midway through the frame.

In the end though, the team with the best player typically wins, and this was proved true when Apuzzo scored her 63rd goal of the season on a beautiful feed from Tess Chandler right in front of the VTech goal. Fittingly, senior Emma Schurr iced the game after controlling a ground ball on a mad scramble in front of the opposing net and ripping twine to put the game out of reach. With the victory, the Eagles preserved their perfect season, all while reaching a new milestone.

After the game, head coach Acacia Walker-Weinstein praised her team’s season accomplishment, even though she wasn’t entirely happy with their performance on the day.

“We weren’t moving the ball, we were a little bit stumped by the zone,” she said. “We just had to keep moving the ball and be selfless, and we found our way to the back of the cage.”

Although BC has yet to reach the promised land, it’s already met one of its preseason aspirations, and it’s well on its way to breaking a few other program records.

“I think last year was a building block, getting a little bit further, and I think it helped us target other goals along the way, not just a National Championship, but an ACC championship and going undefeated,” Walker-Weinstein said.

Featured Image by Bradley Smart / Heights Editor