When the Boston College women’s lacrosse team took the field for pregame warmups this season, the Eagles wore shirts with the word “family” on them. Both the coaches and players considered themselves a family, along with all of the players who have come before them.
The players who had to share their coach with the field hockey team. The players who earned the first NCAA postseason berth in 1994. The players who were standouts, but found themselves runner-ups for the national title the last three seasons.
”We embody [family] because of our coaches and because of the people who came before us and our leaders,” Eagles senior Charlotte North said. “It’s all over the program.”
That family finally broke through the years of heartbreak Sunday, BC winning its first national title with a 16-10 victory over third-seeded Syracuse at Johnny Unitas Stadium in Towson, Md. North scored six times in the fourth-seeded Eagles’ victory, finishing with the NCAA single-season record for goals with 102.
Seven different players scored goals for BC (18-3), which outscored the Orange 7-2 in the second half.
”I’m so proud of the team,” Eagles coach Acacia Walker-Weinstein said. “To see them finish the job on behalf of the school, each other, all the alums, all the classes that got here that couldn’t win before, all of this is for them.”
Up by a goal at intermission, BC took control in the first five minutes of the second half. The Eagles jumped out to a 12-8 lead, their largest of the game, thanks to three quick goals by Jen Medjid, Cassidy Weeks and North. It wasn’t just the scoring that overpowered the Orange in the frame. The Eagles midfield and defense put on a dominant display, including five groundballs by Hollie Schleicher and five of goalie Rachel Hall’s nine saves. BC also dominated at draws, winning six to Syracuse’s three.
The Orange finally scored 12 minutes into the second half. But a minute later, North answered, ripping a shot into the net for her fifth goal of the game and her 101st of the season, setting the Division 1 record.
Cassidy Weeks and Cara Urbank added goals to give the Eagles a 15-9 lead with 13 minutes left. Syracuse added a late goal, but two fouls in quick succession gave BC a player advantage through the rest of the game. North put the game away with her sixth goal with 1:11 left.
BC’s long-awaited title didn’t come without first-half adversity. It was a back-and-forth affair, with five lead changes and 17 goals. North struck first for the Eagles 2:30 into the game. Syracuse (17-4) answered with a Sam Swart goal before Urbank scored off a free position shot to recapture the lead. BC jumped out to a 3-1 lead thanks to a North shot over the heads of the Orange defenders.
Syracuse then went on a 3-0 run, keeping the Eagles scoreless for the next 12:19. Sophomore midfielder Emma Tyrrell had her best game of the regular season against BC, and was on the pace to equal that output Sunday. On her second shot of the game, she scored to bring the Orange within one. Freshman star Emma Ward added one to knot the game, 3-3, and Sierra Cockerille sliced through three defenders to put Syracuse ahead 1:44 later.
Medjid, the Eagles’ semifinal superstar, ended the scoring drought five minutes later to tie the game at 4. On the next possession, Tyrrell received her second yellow card, disqualifying her for the game and dealing Syracuse a huge blow.
”The way Emma was playing, it was too much to replace,” Orange coach Gary Gait said.
The Eagles took advantage of the player advantage, with Belle Smith scoring a leaping goal to recapture the lead. Syracuse answered with goals from Emily Ehle and Swart, taking a 6-5 lead.
The lead went back BC’s way after an over-the-shoulder goal from Courtney Weeks and a snipe by Smith. After Syracuse’s Cara Quimby tied the game yet again, North found herself left alone behind the Orange net and scored on a wraparound to give the Eagles a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
A Caitlynn Mossman bounce shot gave the Eagles a two-goal lead with 90 seconds remaining, but Ward cut that margin to one with 23.2 seconds left to make the score 9-8 at the half.
But that was as close as it got as the Eagles dominated the second half. The BC sideline exploded in joy at the final horn. The “family” had finally won one, and Walker-Weinstein was already thinking about keeping the winning going.
”I said to Hollie [Schleicher], ‘We’re just getting started, we’ve got to keep going,’” Walker-Weinstein said. “And I’m already thinking about winning another one.”