Have you ever heard the name Hope Solo? How about Alex Morgan? Abby Wambach?
In the summer of 2011, I was a rising high school junior, still firmly clinging to my ignorant and middle-schoolish convictions that boys were better than girls; but, there was something special about that year’s US women’s World Cup team that helped poke a needle in my “girls stink, boys rule” bubble.
Our goalie was the spry, super-confident daughter of my favorite Star Wars character; Wambach’s header-scoring skull was an 11 on the Mohs Scale; and the team's miraculous comeback in the 122nd minute of extra time against a villainous Brazil team in the quarterfinals was something out of a Disney Channel original film.
What’s more, Lady Gaga’s “Edge of Glory” was the anthem for ESPN commercials advertising their upcoming matches. I was hooked.
Though that US squad ultimately fell to Japan in the championship match, no one who watched the 2011 Women’s World Cup will forget how hard they played for every single minute of every game. The following summer, they avenged that World Cup loss by taking gold in the London Olympics.
So, how did a women’s soccer team totally captivate a pompous high school boy right in the middle of his chauvinistic prime?
Really, there were four ingredients: 1. impossibly dramatic games, 2. my confidence that we were the best, 3. if you didn’t root for them then you hated America, and 4. Alex Morgan. I’m not saying number four is right, but it’s an undeniable fact. (It’s the same reason my sister was rooting for Portugal in last year’s World Cup. She wanted to see Cristiano Ronaldo play in as many games as possible.)
The most important ingredient for me was number two. I thought we were the best. When a group of people is the best at what they do—no matter what it is—I want to watch that group. It’s why I root for LeBron James; I want to see him achieve greatness. I think it feeds an essential and natural human appetite to see someone who we know is one-of-a-kind at something cement himself as the best through elite performance.
For a long time, I thought that the 2011 US Women’s soccer team was lightning in a bottle. There was no women’s team that I really rallied behind and felt deep pride in because of its affiliation with some part of my identity...until this year.
Perched atop the official rankings at a modest 29-1-1, this is the best women’s hockey team ever to take the ice at BC. Never mind that, though. The 2014-15 squad might be the best team of any sport in the history of Boston College athletics.
Here’s a little run-down on some statistics posted by the Lady Eagles:
● They’ve more than quadrupled their opponents’ scoring total, netting 164 goals and only allowing 35. That’s good for an average margin of victory of 4.2 goals.
● Junior Alex Carpenter leads the nation with 67 points on the year.
● Oh yeah, and she leads all players in both goals and assists.
● More than eleven—I repeat, ELEVEN!— Lady Eagles have reached the 20-point mark.
● Netminder Katie Burk leads the nation in goals against average (GAA), turning away over 94% of the shots she faces, a mark itself good for third in Division 1.
● The Lady Eagles have tickled the twine 10 times in four separate games this season, one of those coming against #7 Harvard on November 28th.
● At 15-0-0, their record remains unblemished at Kelly Rink.
● And finally, here’s my favorite stat: they’ve nearly scored as many shorthanded goals (6) as their opponents have netted on power plays (9).
All these stats are ridiculous; totally and utterly ridiculous. But, here’s the one that I find most ridiculous: the #1 BC women’s hockey team—the most talented team by far of any BC sport this year—averages a meager home attendance of only 367 fans per game, a good handful of which are parents and grandparents. 367.
There are more kids in one of Dick Tresch’s Econ lectures. Even more disgraceful, our opponents have a higher average attendance. No disrespect, but those poindexters at Yale have no business showing out for their team better than we do.
And hey, I was late to the party too. But once I heard we were undefeated after something like 20 games, I knew I had to go see for myself just how dominant our girls were. It was part of that itch to experience greatness. And in the process, I discovered that BC women’s hockey is really freaking exciting!
They’re constantly pushing the puck up the ice, on the attack and in the offensive zone; opposing goalies face more shots than BC freshmen take before the annual boat cruise. Against Connecticut, I witnessed senior forward Kate Leary deke a Lady Huskie out of her skates en route to a shot on net. It’s comical how good these girls are.
And if you’re one of those people who needs the patriotic angle in order to root for a team, this is the crew for you. Everyone is from the good ole’ USA, except for goaltender Taylor Blake and forward Kristyn Capizzano, who hail from Canada, which is pretty much like America but colder and with a better healthcare system. So the Lady Eagles are about as American as it gets.
It’s not like these girls are totally invincible, even though they make us believe that sometimes. They’ve pulled out 1-goal wins against BU, Quinnipiac, and St. Lawrence (who?). In the only blip of the year, they lost to Harvard in the Women’s Beanpot Final last week.
So there we have it. All the important ingredients for a fun, exciting sporting interest. The BC women’s hockey team exudes the same characteristics as that memorable 2011 World Cup US squad. Excitement, check. Superior talent and domination, check. Late-game drama, check. ‘Merica, check. What am I missing here?
During a timeout at the men’s game against Providence three weekends ago (a near sellout), the PA announcer introduced the women’s team as they walked onto the ice, rattling off various statistics from their 27-game unbeaten streak. The crowd clapped unceasingly and gave them a lengthy standing ovation.
I’m sure it was a nice moment for the Lady Eagles, but frustrating at the same time. I can imagine them thinking something along the lines of, “If you’re so proud of us, then why don’t you quit making excuses and come watch us make gravy out of the Hockey East sometime?”
This group of girls deserves more recognition than a 1-minute presentation during the timeout of a men’s game. Senior Night is coming up on Thursday at 7 PM against BU. For four of them, it’ll be the last time they lace up their skates for a regular season game in Conte. How great would it be to show our appreciation for their historic run this year by going all out, attending the game in force, and taunting BU players for...well, going to BU.
Let’s make it happen, BC. These girls have earned an unforgettable Senior Night. Do them a favor—hell, do yourself a favor!—and cheer on the Lady Eagles this Thursday. Here’s to a perfect cap to a near-perfect season. Hope to see you there.
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