As Maryland rushed the field in celebration, a loud chant from a neon green-clad crowd in the stands of Gillette Stadium vibrated from the television. They were shouting, “Let’s go Eagles.”
BC fell to Maryland, 16-13, but the Eagles hung with the No.1 team in the nation in their first-ever National Championship.
“I’m really proud of my team. I think to take down Maryland is like slaying a dragon, and I think my girls fought until the very end, which is all I can ask of them,” head coach Acacia Walker stated.
When Maryland opened the second half on a 5-0 run to go up 10-5, Kenzie Kent retaliated. The junior either scored (3) or assisted (2) on the next five BC goals to bring the margin down to one at 11-10 with 14:00 remaining.
But as soon as Kent cut the lead to 13-11 at five goals and five assists with 9:31 left, Maryland took over. The undefeated Terps (23-0) scored three straight to extend their lead to 16-11 with under five minutes to go.
BC's Sam Apuzzo netted her 79th and 80th goals—a record that leads all NCAA Division I women’s lacrosse players—to bring the score to 16-13, but the Terrapins held BC at bay in the final minute and a half to win their third national championship in four years.
Despite Maryland's victory, the game was a story of the two-sport star in Kent, the first player of a non-champion team to be voted Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Tournament. She's accustomed to the pressure: the junior has helped lead women’s ice hockey to three straight Final Four appearances before trading her skates in for cleats each spring. Her familiarity showed in Foxborough as she tied the National Championship record with 10 points.
Like the slow start for the Eagles in the second half, the first mirrored much of the same. BC (17-7) started tentatively, as Maryland sparked a 2-0 lead within the first two minutes. The Terrapins soon pulled ahead at 5-2 with three straight goals from Caroline Steele with 16:11 remaining in the first.
But as Walker—who played for Maryland—reminded her players all season, they remained humble and hungry. The Eagles responded late in the first half with their own three consecutive goals to tie things up at 5-5 heading into halftime.
Slow starts proved fatal for the Eagles, however, as a repeat of the beginning of the first once again to start the second half left BC chasing a margin it would never recover.
Yet, 2017 marks many firsts for the Eagles. Aside from individual player records for Apuzzo and Kent, 2017 is the first year women's lacrosse reached the National Championship, while also being the first unseeded team to make it to the final since 2003.
And now, the program has gained the experience of playing through the atmosphere of its sport at the highest level.
“Really, I’m really proud of our group….they changed everything for BC. They changed everything,” said Walker of her team.