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Boston College 15, North Carolina 14: Breaking Down the NCAA Semifinal

In a thrilling matchup Friday afternoon, the Boston College Eagles out-slugged the North Carolina Tar Heels 15-14 in double OT. The game was crazy, but let’s try to make sense of it here.

Lauren Daly: History will remember Sam Appuzo’s game winner as being the defining moment of this game. However, that moment would not have been even remotely possible were it not for the efforts of Lauren Daly in relief of Abbey Ngai. When Ngai let in six unanswered goals, Daly got called into relief duty (which is becoming a theme in big games) and posted a heroic effort. Her efforts were key in the comeback, turning aside some great UNC chances amidst the comeback. It’s so important, both in terms of mental spirit and the mechanics of the game, to have a strong goaltender when trying to come back from as big a deficit as six goals, and Daly was up to the task. And it should probably be noted that if it weren’t for a big save that Daly made on a point blank Olivia Ferrucci shot in the first overtime, the result would have been much different. Apuzzo deserves a lot of credit for her efforts this season (hopefully in the form of some hardware) and she deserves credit for her goal, but you can’t ignore Daly’s efforts in the game.

Mental Resiliency: Many of us (including yours truly) were worried about how much BC was running over opponents during the regular season, because it really didn’t give BC an opportunity to deal with any form of adversity. Well, the Eagles were handed a whole lot of adversity in Friday’s game, and the Eagles could have crumbled very easily, but they didn’t, and that’s encouraging going into the biggest game of the season.

Scoring Depth: We would be remiss if we didn’t give Cara Urbank a shoutout here. Urbank’s four goals were huge in the comeback effort, as, incidentally, were Dempsey Arsenault’s three goals. I know I sound like a broken record when I talk about this, but it is so important to have scoring depth when playing difficult opponents, because teams with good defenses can do a number on a team’s best attackers. But when there are a number of scorers that a team can count on, that helps the offense work. We saw the fruits of BC’s depth Friday. Apuzzo was largely shut down in the game, with the UNC defense face-guarding Apuzzo most of the game. But that leads to opportunities for other players, like Urbank and Arsenault, to contribute to the cause, and they did.

And now, let’s look at the matchup on Sunday:

The defining characteristic that Maryland’s team has is that they are very, very fast. This is not a team that is slow and methodical in its attack, they will beat you with its quickness. Draw controls will become important, as the Eagles will want to control the pace of the game since a slower pace will probably favor them, but the Eagles need to be careful with the ball. The Terps are a team that can absolutely kill teams in transition with its speed, and a turnover can be highly problematic.

All in all, it should be a good game.