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Moment #2 of 2021: Lacrosse beats UNC in National Semifinal

2021 NCAA Division I Women’s Lacrosse Championship Photo by Greg Fiume/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

We’re counting down the top 11 BC sports moments of the year, continuing today with #2 -

To catch you up:
#11: MBB win over Notre Dame on Senior Day under interim coach Scott Spinelli
#10: Men’s hockey’s first game with fans since March 2020 is a sellout win
#9: MBB wins in Earl Grant’s ACC opener
#8: Phil Jurkovec’s surprise return sparks football to win over VT
#7: Lacrosse makes the Final Four
#6: Fans return to Alumni Stadium for BC football’s win over Colgate
#5: BC baseball completes an insane, historic comeback to beat Auburn
#4: Drew Helleson’s buzzer beater boosts BC men’s hockey to an overtime win over BU
#3: BC football tops Missouri in OT in front of a sold-out, homecoming crowd

And #2: BC lacrosse tops UNC in the national semifinal at the Final Four in Towson, MD.

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Going in to the Final Four, the Eagles were playing some of their best lacrosse of the season, having easily beaten Notre Dame in the quarterfinals. It’s also pretty clear in retrospect that they were one of those teams on a mission that simply were not going to be denied.

But going in to the national semifinal against #1 and then-undefeated UNC, BC was certainly a fairly distinct underdog — one with a fighting chance, but an underdog nonetheless.

For me as a fan, going in to it I felt like we’d experienced the full spectrum of different kinds of expectations going in to the Final Four during BC lax’s recent run.

In 2017, the Eagles were the huge underdogs just happy to be there, and though losing to Maryland stung, it was exciting to know they were on the rise. In 2018, they overcame the big power in Maryland only to have the 1980 Miracle equivalent of “losing to Finland” happen in the final. And then in 2019, they were the big bad favorites, with the three-headed attacking monster leading them to an undefeated regular season, only to trip up in the final.

2021 sort of felt like a return to 2018 - BC was a top team but not the favorite, and had to overcome #1 to make the final. So I felt good, but not great.

Then, the game started, and things started to look... really, really good, in a way that felt a little surreal from my seat the BC section. BC battled back after a rough first few minutes to take an 8-5 lead into halftime, including a goal by Cassidy Weeks juuust before the half ended to make everyone feel extra good heading into the locker room:

At this point there was belief, but of course as a BC fan you kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. The Eagles weren’t able to put up their usual big numbers offensively in the second half, but some great defense and goaltending prevented that other shoe from dropping; Rachel Hall put on an absolute goaltending clinic and kept BC’s lead at least semi-comfortable until late in the game.

It was only the general trauma of past heartbreaks that had anyone (myself included) actually still nervous when UNC scored with 1.3 seconds left to cut BC’s lead down to 11-10. It was obviously physically and mathematically impossible for UNC to win a draw and score in that period of time... but hell if I wasn’t celebrating until the clock hit 00:00. But when it did, there was joy:

Of course, for this team, just pulling this great upset in the national semifinal wasn’t enough. They wanted so badly to finish the job, and knew they’d have to do it against another ACC foe two days later in Syracuse, in order for the win over #1 not to feel hollow. But this game and this win itself was a fantastic moment - a brilliant performance by BC to shut down one of the most fearsome attacks in the game.

On to the final...