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Women’s Lacrosse Recap: Reviewing the opening day of the ACC Tournament

What does this mean for the tournament resumes of Virginia and Syracuse?

Sam Apuzzo, left, has been one of the top women’s lacrosse players in the NCAA this season. Against Louisville, she set a program record with 17 draw controls.
John Quackenbos / BC Athletics

Playoff women’s lacrosse season started on Thursday afternoon, as the ACC and Pac-12 Tournaments held their quarterfinals. ACC action began just past 11 a.m. with Boston College taking on Louisville and ended at four minute of 1 a.m. on Friday morning when Virginia Tech held off Duke (more on that later).

Let’s review the busy day.

Boston College 19, Louisville 6

(Read the full recap from our friends at BC Interruption.)

How the game was won: When these two teams met in the regular season, Louisville actually led at halftime, 5-3. The three goals by Boston College were the Eagles’ fewest in a half all season long.

They made sure not to replicate the slow start today. BC scored 14 times in the first half, including eight times in the first 10 minutes, as Louisville was completely outmatched.

The Cardinals were only successful on 9 of 18 clear attempts in the game, as the Eagles midfielders were quick to negate outlet passes (Louisville also played pretty sloppily).

Boston College opponents have only been successful on 73.6 percent of clears this season.

Apuzzo stars on the draw: We know about Apuzzo’s offensive game. She is second in the NCAA with 103 total points this season. But on Thursday, her proficiency in the draw circle really set her apart. Apuzzo set a Boston College program record with 17 draw controls, winning 77.8 percent.

Most of these wins were self-draws forward, which is a critical way to kick-start an offensive possession and string together runs. Twice on Thursday, the Eagles scored within 15 seconds of an Apuzzo faceoff win.

What’s next for Louisville? The Cardinals didn’t win an ACC game this season, head coach Scott Teeter’s first year on the job, so the year will be seen as a disappointment. Freshman attack Caroline Blalock had a very promising rookie year, leading the team with 55 points. Look for her to continue to be the offensive focal point moving forward.

Notre Dame 11, Virginia 10

How the game was won: Virginia ended the first half on a 3-0 run to take a 9-4 lead. Cavaliers midfielder Kasey Behr scored four goals in the opening 30 minutes alone.

But what a comeback it was by the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame’s defense only allowed one goal in the second half, as freshman goalie Bridget Deehan was stellar in relief. She made seven saves in the second half, a percentage of .875.

At the other end of the field it was another freshman, Andie Aldave, that scored the game-winner with 2:42 to play. From there, the Irish made two defensive stops and won the game.

Bless the shot clock: If this game had been played three years ago, Virginia would have stalled the whole second-half and won in horribly unexciting action. It’s just another reminder of how thankful we should be for the 90-second shot clock in women’s lacrosse for keeping games competitive and entertaining late in games.

What’s next for Virginia? The Cavaliers are going to be sweating this one out on Selection Sunday. A 4-3 record in ACC play and a non-conference road win against Princeton creates quite a formidable resume, but Virginia didn’t do itself any favors down the stretch, losing seven of its last eight games to finish the year 9-9.

At the moment, Virginia is my last team in.

North Carolina 21, Syracuse 12

How the game was won: The Tar Heels offense is potent. By scoring 21 against Syracuse, North Carolina tied an ACC Tournament record for goals in a game. It could have been even more if they had kept at their early pace. UNC took an 11-2 lead on the Orange with 14:07 to play in the first half.

Freshman sensation Jamie Ortega had a huge day, scoring six goals. She now has 13 goals in her last two games (This is a player who holds the Long Island record with 588 career high school points). Ela Hazar and Katie Hoeg each had 7 points in the game.

Incredible shot volume: In the first half, North Carolina took 29 shots including 23 shots on goal. Syracuse goalkeeper Hannah Van Middelem had several very nice saves in goal and North Carolina still put up 21 goals. This offense has as many weapons as any team in the country.

What’s next for Syracuse? Syracuse’s tournament resume looks similar to Virginia’s. The Orange have three marquee wins: Princeton, Florida and Loyola; and nearly beat Boston College on the road. But there are ugly wins, too, including two 9-goal losses against North Carolina and a 7-goal defeat at home against Duke. Syracuse went 1-7 against ACC teams.

If the final spot for the committee comes down to Syracuse vs. Virginia, they may decide by looking at the head-to-head meeting: a 17-16 Cavaliers win.

I think Syracuse is out.

Virginia Tech 13, Duke 12

How the game was won: This contest was delayed TWICE for weather, and the final draw came nearly five hours after the opening draw. But in the end, Virginia Tech was able to hold on.

Remember the San Francisco vs. Baltimore Super Bowl, when the power went out? Baltimore was completely dominating, then after the long delay, momentum seemed to completely flip and San Francisco came rallying back?

This Virginia Tech vs. Duke game was a lot like that. The Hokies led 13-7 during the second rain delay, which lasted over 75 minutes. When the two teams resumed, Duke scored five straight, pulling within 13-12 with 1:41 to play. Virginia Tech made a defensive stop, though, and held on.

The weather... :

Lacrosse teams almost never play back to back days, but in conference tournament time, a few conferences set it up that way. But this kind of circumstance is unexpected. Virginia Tech has to play again tomorrow night, after finishing this game at 1 a.m. We’ll see how the Hokies fare against UNC.

What’s next for Duke? The Blue Devils will likely miss the NCAA Tournament after today’s loss, but they have a future in Charlotte North, their freshman attacker. North, one of the only NCAA lacrosse players from Texas, has scored 55 goals in 16 games for Duke.

Today’s schedule

  • 5 p.m. No. 1 Boston College vs. No. 5 Notre Dame
  • 8 p.m. No. 2 North Carolina vs. No. 3 Duke

These games can be streamed on WatchESPN via ACC Extra (blackout restrictions apply).