One of the interesting things about lacrosse when you’re someone (like me) who’s more used to watching other sports is that as the clock starts ticking down, it’s hard to gauge just how likely a comeback is.
No lead is truly safe; teams can go on giant runs, especially if they keep winning draws, as UNC did in their stunning comeback over Northwestern.
But on the other hand, the clock can drain mighty quickly - and make even small deficits feel enormous - if the opposing team keeps winning possession of the ball. Even if they don’t score, it’s probably something like 60-70 seconds off the clock if you lose a draw.
That was the situation for BC yesterday in the final minutes of their national semifinal against Maryland.
The Eagles were operating well enough offensively all day to stay in the game, but Maryland kept dominating at draw controls - making a three-goal deficit feel pretty potent with 7 minutes to go.
When Jenn Medjid scored with 6:58 remaining to make it Maryland 16, BC 14, it felt like the Eagles could be on the verge of a comeback - if they could win a few draws.
But they didn’t.
Maryland in fact won each of the next three critical draw controls down the stretch in the game, and yet the Eagles somehow still managed to force turnovers on all three possessions - then capitalize and score each time:
5:16 to go: North. 16-15 Maryland.
3:06 to go: North. 16-16.
0:18 to go: Weeks. 17-16 BC.
It was familiar heroes defensively making the huge stands for the Eagles. Cassidy Weeks forced two turnovers, and Hollie Schleicher forced another. Sydney Scales scooped up the ground ball with 1:31 to go that gave BC possession and a chance to score in the final seconds, which they did, with style:
Weeks, Scales, and Schleicher have been stalwarts for the Eagles throughout their journey to the top of the NCAA women’s lacrosse world, and they came up absolutely gigantic when the Eagles needed them most yesterday.
What made the Eagles’ sequence of defensive stops so impressive is the potency Maryland’s offense showed whenever they were able to get a good look at the net.
The Terps had just 24 shots, but put 21 on goal and 16 in to the back of the net. BC played great defense throughout the game, but it felt like if Maryland could one decent chance they’d probably score - and yet on three straight absolute must-stop possessions, the Eagles held them out.
After the game, when Acacia Walker-Weinstein was asked how BC was able to climb out of their deficit, she said:
“Our defense makes critical stops. They take really smart risks. And they deliver the ball to the offense. And then the offense just does their job.
I really give all the credit to the defense. The goals are in a way the easy part. The defense is the most challenging part of the game. And our defense really stepped up and I was just proud of the risks they took. They took really athletic, smart risks and gave us the opportunity to score.”
In the end, BC forced 5 turnovers in the fourth quarter, while turning it over just once themselves. Those are the kinds of numbers they needed to pull the magic trick they did yesterday, of erasing a three-goal late deficit despite not controlling a draw
They’re going to need to be 100% on for the entire day tomorrow if they’re going to beat UNC - but we know they certainly can do it. What Acacia Walker-Weinstein’s teams have accomplished defensively in the Final Four last year and this year so far has been nothing short of extraordinary - and now they have a shot to defend their title.