Last year, the Boston College Eagles’ Sam Apuzzo managed to score with just one tick left to give BC a one-goal win in Newton, Mass. A year later, the two teams faced off just down the road in Alumni Stadium for the 2019 ACCT semifinal. Once again, it came down to the wire but No. 1/1 Boston College (19-0) was able to pull off a victory in the final seconds. Taylor Walker’s score with 17 seconds left was the difference in a 14-13 victory over the No. 4/4 Syracuse Orange women’s lacrosse team (15-4) on Friday evening.
The Eagles started out the scoring just 82 seconds in when Dempsey Arsenault bounced one past Asa Goldstock on a free position shot at the top of the fan. The two teams traded a goal over the next two minutes before the Orange took advantage of a pair of Boston College yellow cards. Natalie Wallon and Emily Hawryschuk scored on man-up situations within 30 seconds of each other to give the ‘Cuse their first lead of the day at 3-2 with 25:44 left in the half. Four minutes later, Hawryschuk buried another one in the upper cage for a 4-2 lead at the 20:54 mark.
The teams would again trade goals over the next five minutes before the Eagles went on their first run of the game. Scores by Jordan Lappin, Kate Taylor and Apuzzo over an eight minute stretch enabled Boston College to regain the lead at 6-5 with 7:25 left in the half.
After the two teams traded goals yet again to keep the Eagle lead at one, Syracuse tied it up with just nine ticks before the break in unusual fashion. Following an Eagle turnover with 28 seconds remaining, the Orange sent the ball downfield on a pass intended for Nicole Levy, but the ball bounced past her. Hawryschuk tried to corral the ball, but could not and instead batted it forward while trying to get a hold on it. She failed to do so for a second time and sent the ball downfield to the right of the goal. Hawryschuk finally managed to get enough of the ball as it careened downfield past the goal and redirected it right at Eagle goalie Abbey Ngai. The timely field hockey style whack caught Ngai by surprise,rolling past her and in for the goal as both teams headed into the locker room locked at 7-7.
Neither team could get an advantage to start the second half and both teams traded a pair of goals each in the first five minutes to keep the game tied at 9. For the next ten minutes, the defenses took over but Boston College was able to regain the lead, scoring the only goal from Taylor Walker during this time which put them up 10-9 with 19:10 left in the game.
The Orange, having not scored in 11 minutes, finally broke out on a four goal run over a six minute stretch. Hawryschuk, Carney, Mary Rahal and Tyrrell all found the cage to give SU their largest lead of the game at 13-10 with just 8:10 remaining.
The Eagles, which had gone on a 12 minute scoring drought themselves, picked up the intensity and forced two costly yellow cards on the Orange in the remaining time. Arsenault took advantage of the first man-up opportunity a little over a minute later to cut the SU lead to 13-11 at the 6:53 mark. Cara Urbank followed this up 84 seconds later on a pass from Arsenault and suddenly only a goal separated the two opponents. The other yellow card several minutes later enabled Apuzzo to score the tying goal with just 1:40 left to play. The Eagles were able to grab the ensuing draw despite SU’s dominance in this area for much of the game. After getting the ball into the SU defensive zone and calling a time out, Boston College patiently passed the ball around the perimeter. With 17 seconds left, they found an opportunity as Arsenault found Walker in front of the goal. Walker, in one fluid motion, took the pass and shot it off balance past Goldstock for the go ahead score.
The Orange did have one last ditch opportunity when they were able to get the final draw off of a BC foul with 14.5 ticks left. Following an SU time out, however, the Orange had problems getting the ball downfield never got a shot off as time ran out.
ICYMI: Take a at this highlight reel goal from Emily Hawryschuk in the ACC Tournament semifinals vs. #1 Boston College. She finished with 4 goals and 12 draw controls. @SportsCenter #top10 pic.twitter.com/MsVwVFvT2f— Syracuse Women's Lax (@CuseWLAX) April 27, 2019
- Shots: Boston College 32, Syracuse 18
- Shots on Goal: Boston College 22, Syracuse 16
- Turnovers: Syracuse 23, Boston College 14
- Clears: Boston College 16-18, Syracuse 13-21
- Ground Balls: Boston College 22, Syracuse 12
- Draw Controls: Syracuse 18, Boston College 11
- Free Positions: Boston College 3-5, Syracuse 2-4
Hawryschuk (4 g, 12 dc), Carney (2 g, 2 a, 1 gb, 1 ct), Rahal (2 g, 1 dc), Sam Swart (2 g), Tyrrell (1 g, 3 a), Natalie Wallon (1 g, 1 a, 2 gb), Levy (1 g), Grace Fahey (4 gb, 2 ct, 5 dc), Kerry Defliese (3 gb, 2 ct)
The Turning Point
Unlike the Virginia game, where it was ambiguous, there’s no question that the final eight minutes of this contest was the turning point. Apuzzo for Boston College got the ensuing draw control following the Tyrrell goal that put SU up 13-10. As the senior attacker pulled down the draw, Hawryschuk wrapped her stick around the neck and a yellow card was given. The Eagles took advantage of the man-up opportunity just 77 seconds later on the Arsenault goal.
Fahey got the next draw for Syracuse and a time out was called to set a play up with 6:44 remaining. Tyrrell found Rahal cutting up the middle, who had a wide open shot on BC goalie Lauren Daly (who had replaced Ngai at the 24:43 mark of the second half). The senior made a big save on the high shot and the Eagles were able to regain possession. It represented SU’s best and only chance from this point on for a score as they would not get another opportunity afterwards. A minute later, an Urbank goal trimmed the Orange advantage to one with 5:29 left.
Apuzzo took the following draw and BC called a time out of their own 11 seconds after their score. The Syracuse defense was stout and affected a turnover a minute later. However, the Boston College ride, which had been effective at causing the Orange problems with clears all evening long, forced Syracuse to waste a lot of time trying to bring the ball upfield and it took over a minute for them to get the ball into the offensive zone. As the shot clock was running down, Levy tried a behind the back pass to Hawryschuk, which was mishandled and SU lost possession on the shot clock violation with just 2:48 remaining.
As the Eagles pushed the ball back upfield on the clear, Levy gave just enough of a shove along the sidelines at the 2:23 mark to be called with SU’s second yellow card in six minutes. This meant that Boston College had a man-up for two minutes if they wished. The Eagles, however, wasted very little time and got a free position opportunity 20 seconds later off of a three second call. Goldstock made a huge point blank save and Syracuse had another chance to burn off some time.
Once again, Boston College’s pressure ride forced a turnover. Goldstock flipped it out to Defliese on the left side of the defensive zone, but the latter was covered tightly by Urbank. As Kenzie Kent moved in for a double team, Defliese tried to get it back to Goldstock, but the pass was way off and made a bounce. As Goldstock moved towards it, Apuzzo raced up and knocked the ball away and it rolled across and in front of the goal. Apuzzo managed to come up with the ground ball, but didn’t have a shot initially . Goldstock had fallen down while trying to get the ball and ran back towards the goal. Apuzzo circled around and took advantage of the unsettled situation and bounced a shot under Goldstock to tie the game with 1:40 left.
With the man-up situation released, the teams set up for the draw. The ball bounced back into the Eagle defensive zone and Hannah Hyatt picked it up for BC with 1:34 left. This meant that Boston College could almost hold for the final shot with a four second difference. The Eagles were able to eat up the clock and get the winning goal by Taylor with 17 seconds remaining.
Hear from head coach Gary Gait after tonight’s ACC Tournament semifinals. pic.twitter.com/pXa54QDApt— Syracuse Women's Lax (@CuseWLAX) April 27, 2019
The Good: (yes, there was some good that came from this game)
Draw Controls: SU did an excellent job on Friday evening, winning this battle 18-11. Boston College won this battle in the regular season contest 18-10, so the Orange essentially flipped the script in what was certainly a higher pressure contest. Hawryschuk had a monster game with 12 draws while Fahey added five.
Intensity: Barring the 1st half against Virginia, this is probably the best I’ve seen Syracuse as far as energy since the Maryland game. They need to bring this level of intensity to the NCAAT if they want to make a deep run.
Goldstock: Although she had eight saves against 14 goals, I’d argue that this game might not have been as close as it was without a number of big saves, particularly in the first half. The senior has been pretty solid throughout the two games of the ACCT and this will be a big plus for the Orange if this continues in the NCAAT.
Defense: I thought the defense caused a lot of problems with the Boston College attack until the last eight minutes of the contest, when the cracks started to appear. Defliese had a couple of really nice ground balls and caused turnovers at key moments to stave off Eagle scoring opportunities. Fahey had a good game as well with four ground balls and a pair of caused turnovers in addition to the draw controls.
Offense: While they didn’t get as many shots off as I would have liked, they were actually very efficient when they did shoot, with 13 goals off 16 shots on goal. When one considers that Ngai came into the game with a 51% save rate (which included some very good opponents) and Daly was 46%, three total Eagle saves for the night was about as good as you could ask for.
The Bad (yeah, there were definitely some)
Turnovers: Syracuse had 23 turnovers in this game. While Boston College had their own issues with 14, this was a killer for the Orange all game long. Although the Eagle ride deserves a good chunk of the credit for causing some of them, the fact is that SU shot itself in the foot repeatedly with 10 uncaused turnovers, and a lot of them were entirely avoidable. Given that this was decided by a goal, this stat is a good reason why Syracuse had only 18 overall shots for the entire game. It also partially counteracted the draw control wins as the Orange had several quick turnovers off these.
Clears: Syracuse had all sorts of problems on the clear Friday evening, going 13-21. Most of those were actually in the first half, when SU went 4-11. However, the lone failed clear came at the worst possible moment with 1:40 left and BC was able to tie the game. The Orange took an entire half to identify how to deal with the Boston College pressure and that’s just too long a time to adjust. Syracuse either had misfired on passes or found themselves trapped by a double or triple team and losing the ball. But even worse, there didn’t seem to be any support for players who found themselves ensnared by the BC traps.
Yellow Cards: While not as bad as the Virginia game, the last pair (they had three overall for the contest) really couldn’t have come at a worse time. Half of BC’s four goal run came from the man-ups at the end of the game and the Orange were a man-down for about a quarter of the remaining eight minutes. That’s a lot of time against one of the best offenses in the country.
Ground Balls: SU lost this one 22-12. These represented a lot of opportunities to get either scoring chances or turnovers, but BC seemed to outhustle the Orange in this category.
Putting The Opponent Away: Syracuse has had problems all season long putting teams away. They’ve been able to get away with it for the most part, but when you play with fire, eventually you get burned. The Orange had a 13-10 lead and the momentum with eight minutes left and virtually handed the game to Boston College. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but perhaps SU learned a hard lesson on developing a killer instinct when they have opponents on the ropes.
Syracuse will now await the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee’s decision next Sunday. There is no question that the Orange will be in the tournament and will certainly have a seeded spot. This loss did not really hurt SU as far as the seeding. At this point, I think SU is a solid lock on the 4 or 5 position and much will depend on what happens with Northwestern next weekend in the B1G Tournament. The Wildcats did finish the regular season with a win over Ohio State on Thursday and will have to face a top-10 Michigan squad in the opening round. Should they win, they’ll have to very likely go up against no. 2 Maryland in the final. If NU loses either of these games, I think SU will get the 4 spot. If they end up getting the B1G AQ, that might very well be enough to bump them ahead of the Orange for the 4 seed.
I’ll be getting an NCAA Tournament article up sometime early next week and a follow-up next weekend in time for the selection show next Sunday.