As a junior in high school in 2017, Rachel Hall had the chance to watch the Boston College lacrosse team make their first of five straight Final Four appearances. Although the Eagles lost in the championship game that year, the game gave Hall the opportunity to experience the culture surrounding BC Lacrosse firsthand.
So it seems almost like destiny that Hall landed on campus in 2020.
“I remember talking to a few parents [at the game] and just loving the culture, and Acacia was incredible,” Hall shares. Being from the same town as former assistant coach Kayla Treanor certainly helped, and she mentions, “that was a big pull for me to come here — but even without her here I just love it.”
Getting to play for Acacia Walker-Weinstein and the rest of the coaching staff over the past four years has been a “dream come true,” Hall says. “They’re people that really care about you as a player, but they’re also some of my biggest role models even outside of lacrosse.”
Prior to becoming an Eagle, Hall played for Oregon and finished her rookie season as the nation’s save leader. Her first year at BC, as a sophomore, was the pandemic-shortened season, where she had double-digit saves in four out of the seven games the Eagles were able to play.
Then came her junior year. Leading the Eagles to an 18-3 record in the regular season, Hall then had an incredible showing at the NCAA tournament. Perhaps one of her most memorable performances as an Eagle so far is her 11-save outing against North Carolina in the national semifinal, allowing BC to upset the favorites to win it all. Following it up with a nine-save performance in the championship game against Syracuse, Hall backstopped the Eagles to their first ever National Championship, cementing her name in Boston College history.
Hall’s senior year included another run to the NCAA title game, where the Eagles eventually fell to the Tar Heels. Hall, who returned this season as a graduate student, points to the loss as motivation for this year, noting that the Eagles are playing for the recent alumni that don’t have another chance at winning a trophy. “Last year’s team — we were very close,” she says. “So it was very heartbreaking at the end of the year to lose. Some of my best friends in the world were those seniors, so we’re kind of playing for them and playing for the alumni.”
The Boston College lacrosse program is notably close knit, from the extensive alumni network to the current players on the team. As a graduate student, Hall has had the opportunity to get to know many teammates that have gone through the program. “I’ve had incredible teammates every single year I’ve been here,” she says. In particular, she credits her fellow goalies with making her Boston College experience great. “Abbey Ngai was incredible, she was a goalie and taught me a lot and was just an incredible teammate,” Hall reminisces. But she hasn’t just been inspired by the players that share her position: “Cara Urbank is one of my favorite teammates of all time. From top to bottom every teammate that I’ve played with has been so incredible — Charlotte North, Caitlynn Mossman, all of them.”
As an upperclassman, Hall says she’s been put in a really special position when it comes to leading the team and the younger goalkeepers, especially highly touted freshman goalkeeper Shea Dolce. “When I came in, Abbey was such a great teammate and mentor to me, so now I’m kind of just passing it along to the younger generations,” she says. “The way I view it is that I love BC lacrosse and those goalies are the future.
“Anything I can do to give them what they need to be successful and make the program successful in the future — I’m definitely willing to do that.”
As for her own game? Between last season and this season, Hall says that her main focus has been continuing to work on her confidence. “Just knowing that I’ve been there before — I’ve been in the big games and I’ve played well in the big games.” Sometimes it’s hard as a goalie, she points out, since people tend to focus on the goals that have been let in, “and the next day on Instagram that’s all you’ll see.
“The goals go in but just knowing that the next shot matters the most and making those saves,” is what Hall says is most important.
Something that does take a little bit of pressure off of her as goalkeeper is BC having such a high-scoring offense. The Eagles are outscoring opponents 61-32 this season and have a 3-1 overall record. Hall has only let in double-digit goals once, allowing 10 goals during a 14-15 loss to then-#5 Northwestern.
“It’s such a blessing,” Hall says of the BC offense, “but because they’re scoring so many goals, you want to help them out and make those stops on the defensive end. It’s kind of a give-and-give situation.”
Although the Eagles are used to putting teams away handily (this season, they’ve won by scores of 14-3, 16-6, and 17-8), there are times where they experience the rare loss during the regular season. Still, Hall believes there’s a lot to gain and learn from the losses. Speaking of the loss to Northwestern earlier this season, she says “we never want to lose a game, but it’s February — we can really look at the loss, see what we did wrong and what we can do better.”
Opponents want to give the Eagles their best game, especially with BC becoming a mainstay at the top of lacrosse polls. Hall gives the coaching staff credit for preparing them to take on the other top teams in the country, but also not writing off other opponents. “It’s really about respecting every opponent,” Hall says, “and making sure that whoever comes in here gets our best game as well.” With 2023 ACC play underway, there might be a little more focus on conference games, but Hall says it doesn’t change the way they prepare overall.
As a team, BC’s end goals remain the same: win the ACC championship and win the NCAA championship. Throughout the season Coach Walker-Weinstein and the Eagles try to continually build upon what they’ve got going so they can “hopefully at the end of the year be on top.”
Part of what has helped BC to continue to improve has come from outside of the program. Given that the season starts in February, the Eagles used to have to play outdoors in the unpredictable winter weather when their only facility was the field on Newton Campus. Now, the team has access to the Fish Field House and gets to play their early-season games indoors. “It’s a game changer,” Hall says. “Having the indoor facilities is just incredible, I think it really legitimizes our program in a sense.”
When it did get warmer out last year, the Eagles also played games at Alumni Stadium. Last season, they had the opportunity to play in front of a record-breaking crowd at Alumni when taking on North Carolina in March, with 5,937 students and fans in attendance. “Normally you get those crowds in the Final Four and in the championship,” Hall says, “but to have so many people come out and support was awesome.” It was a pinch-me moment on the field, Hall shared, something that players dream about as kids. It was a “step outside of yourself and take it in” kind of moment for Hall, getting to see firsthand the impact that BC lacrosse has had on the community and the Boston lacrosse scene as a whole.
While this is her last year at Boston College, there’s no doubt that Rachel Hall will be remembered at BC for years to come as the goalkeeper that helped bring the first non-men’s hockey NCAA Championship to the Heights.