The Boston College women’s lacrosse team travels to Syracuse for a two-game set starting tonight to wrap up the regular season against a fellow top-4 nationally ranked opponent.
Tonight’s game at 6 PM is nationally televised on ESPNU. Saturday’s regular season finale at noon will be on ACC Network Extra.
The first full season of the post-Sam Apuzzo-era for BC has been gaining steam for weeks, and this weekend’s back-to-back clashes against the team ranked #3 in the nation in the Inside Lacrosse poll (BC is #4) present a measuring stick opportunity to assess how real BC’s chances are at a deep postseason run.
BC and Syracuse enter the weekend tied for second place in the ACC with 7-1 records, well clear of 4th place Duke and Notre Dame (4-5).
Assuming UNC beats Duke in their regular season finale- which seems likely, as UNC has run roughshod over all their competition this year - BC and Syracuse will be battling for the #2 seed in the ACC tournament this weekend.
Beyond the ACC standings implications, whoever emerges ranked higher between BC and Syracuse will likely be in position to be either the #2 or #3 overall ranked team going into the NCAA tournament, unless they have an unexpected blunder in the ACC tournament.
BC entered this season #13 in the polls, following a talent drain from their back-to-back-to-back Final Four teams due to graduation, and an early season 21-9 loss to North Carolina reiterated the perception that this was a rebuilding year for the Eagles.
But ever since then, the Eagles have been dominant - not only rattling off 7 straight ACC wins, but doing so in impressive fashion, with four blowout wins against top 10 teams (UVA, Duke, and two last week against Notre Dame).
The Notre Dame series in particular was a warning shot, with BC rolling to early leads of 6-0 and 5-0 in the two games against the then-#4 Irish and making easy work of them.
With the attacking trio of Apuzzo-Kent-Arsenault that pushed BC to new heights from 2017-2019 all gone, new scoring leaders have emerged.
Senior Charlotte North is third in the nation in scoring with 57 goals, and sixth in the nation in draw controls, living up to the hype that came with her transfer from Duke. But behind North, a well-balanced attack is forming, with freshman Belle Smith particularly coming into her own in recent weeks, scoring 10 goals in her last 3 games, including a 4-2—6 output in the first stomping of Notre Dame. Cara Urbank and Jenn Medjid have stepped into bigger roles this year and done so with aplomb.
All told, BC has the most prolific offense in the ACC, scoring 17.5 goals per game - outpacing even UNC - and has been good enough on defense to be a top 10 team nationally in scoring margin.
So where does that leave BC? Can they make it back to the Final Four? We’ll know more after this set against Syracuse, who also have their eyes on a deep run.
Syracuse is a strong defensive team, ranked 2nd in the league after North Carolina, and is paced on offense by Megan Carney (46 goals) and Meaghan Tyrrell (45).
Syracuse has been elite at shot suppression and winning ground balls. They’ve allowed just 17 shots per game, so it should be interesting to see them butt heads with a BC team that averages more than 17 *goals* and 33 shots per game.
If the Eagles can break down one of the nation’s best defenses, that will raise hopes even further for a team that has blown past preseason expectations and elevated themselves back into Final Four contention.
In addition to the TV broadcast on ESPNU, tonight’s game can be watched live online via WatchESPN.