The top-ranked Boston College women’s lacrosse fell to the second-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels on Sunday, ending their perfect season and raising some questions as the Eagles head into the NCAA Tournament.
The game started as most games have for this team, with the Eagles starting fast and taking a commanding 5-0 lead in the first seven minutes. Sam Apuzzo staked her claim as the top player in the nation, scoring the first two goals in impressive fashion. She converted on a Dempsey Arsenault pass to open the scoring and later beat the goalie on a free position play.
Cara Urbank would pick up right where Apuzzo left off, scoring twice in the span of 90 seconds. Ball movement was key for the Eagles’ offense as their hot start continued, with three of the first five goals assisted. Taylor Walker added the fifth goal, fielding a ball of the bounce and effortlessly flicking it to the top corner.
The Eagles looked unstoppable early, but the momentum soon began to shift in North Carolina’s favor. Once the Tar Heels settled in and were able to control the ball, they methodically chipped away at the BC lead, eventually tying the contest at six goals apiece. Kenzie Kent led the BC response, contributing two goals before halftime to lead the Eagles to a 9-7 lead at the break.
The first ten minutes of the second half were marked by the two teams trading goals, with neither able to create separation. The Tar Heels took the lead with three unanswered goals to open the half, but the Eagles never let the game get out of hand, tying the game twice after the Tar Heels had taken the lead.
Perhaps the most important goal of the game to this point was Apuzzo’s which knotted the score at 11-11. After she scored on a free position play which was erroneously waved off due to a false start, Apuzzo unleashed a bouncing shot which was muffed by the UNC goalie and rolled across the line.
It felt like the Eagles were about to finally break through and claim the ACC title, but the Tar Heels had other ideas. The UNC attack erupted with three unanswered goals to take a 14-11 lead with eight minutes remaining, putting pressure on BC to mount another late comeback. The Eagles put forth a valiant effort, with Dempsey Arsenault scoring on a fantastic spin move and Jordan Lappin adding another goal off of free position. The Eagles had an opportunity to tie the game late, but could not get a shot on goal before the 90-second shot clock expired.
Some late controversy angered BC fans, as the Tar Heels were granted a timeout in the final two minutes despite the fact that it appeared the ball was loose behind the goal. UNC would then add an insurance goal to escape with a 15-13 victory and the ACC title.
The loss followed an eerily familiar pattern for the Eagles. They also went undefeated in the regular season before falling to North Carolina in the ACC Championship in 2018.
The Eagles (19-1) will now set their sights toward the NCAA Tournament, hoping to avenge two consecutive title game losses and send a prolific senior class out in style.
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