On Sunday afternoon, Boston College women’s lacrosse faced off against Penn in the second round of the 2023 NCAA Tournament. BC earned themselves a bye for the first round, so this contest was their first of the tournament. The Eagles and Quakers fought hard all four quarters in a contested and defensive game, but BC finally ended up on top by a score of 9-7.
The first quarter started slow for BC, as they weren’t able to establish much of an offensive presence. But Shea Dolce stood tall in net for the Eagles while they figured it out, saving multiple shots on goal and only letting the Quakers put one ball in the net. By the second quarter, BC picked up where they left off in the ACC Tournament and scored three straight to take a 5-1 lead. Penn eventually got one back and the teams entered the half with a 5-2 score. Closer than expected for BC, but their defense was once again holding strong like it has been all postseason.
BC got off to another slow start to the second half and let Penn back into the game. The Eagles could not get many quality shot attempts without running into a swarming Penn defense, scoring only twice in the 3rd quarter and entering the 4th quarter slightly leading by a score of 7-5. It wasn’t a lack of trying, as the Eagles won plenty of draw controls and got some good cuts to the net, but the Quakers’ sticks were ultra-aggressive and it paid off to keep them in the game. Shea Dolce cooled off a bit as the netminder and Penn scored some goals that they originally weren’t converting in the first half, too.
The fourth quarter was more of the same. BC couldn’t find the back of the net while Penn slowly crept their way back into things. The Quakers found themselves down just one goal with seven minutes remaining when things started to get hectic. A crazy sequence with about 5 minutes left in the game saw both teams turn it over, gain possession, and turn it right back over multiple times for multiple minutes. The offenses looked sloppy and the defenses were taking every little scrap they could get. The sequence ended with Weeks taking a crosscheck to the face, giving BC a player advantage that led them Cassidy to score for a 9-7 lead with under two minutes remaining. Penn blew their next scoring opportunity when they moved early on their free position, turning it over to BC who ran out the clock.
It’s a bit concerning that this team has been playing such defensive, low-scoring games as of late. BC typically rides high on its impressive offense and has rode them to exciting wins over Syracuse, Notre Dame, and others. But their last three wins in this postseason against ND, UNC, and now Penn have all come in defensive slugfests that require Shea Dolce and her squad to perform better than they have all season. Low-scoring affairs mean high variance, meaning a great team like BC could lose games that they shouldn’t. Finding their rhythm on offense will be extremely important moving forward, especially for star players like Jenn Medjid and Kayla Martello, who scored just two goals each in this game.
Up next is quite a familiar foe: the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Boston College has faced and defeated ND twice this season already, once in a regular season thriller and once in the ACC tournament.