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Wednesday, May 29, 2024
The Observer

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Irish fall to Eagles again in ACC Tournament

Boston College drops Notre Dame in semifinal en route to ACC title

The Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team can only hope someone else will defeat Boston College in this year’s NCAA Tournament. After a 9-7 loss to the Eagles in Friday’s ACC semifinals, the Irish have now seen four tournament runs end at the hands of Boston College in the last four seasons. Last year, the Eagles eliminated Notre Dame in both the ACC and NCAA Championships.

This year’s game represented a rematch of Notre Dame’s epic win at Chestnut Hill on March 16. The Irish scored late to beat the Eagles 15-14, winning at Chestnut Hill for the first time in two decades. That nail-biter marked the second victory of a 10-game win streak that carried Notre Dame into Friday’s matchup.

With the game’s opening draw, one of Notre Dame’s top players immediately made history. Graduate midfielder Kasey Choma officially set the Notre Dame record for career games played, starting her 83rd. Just under five minutes into the contest, another member of the Irish “big three” enjoyed a big moment, as graduate attacker Madison Ahern opened the scoring with her 52nd goal of the season.

But Notre Dame’s terrific trio went abnormally quiet for the remaining 55 minutes. Boston College limited Choma, Ahern and graduate attacker Jackie Wolak — who regularly combine for double-digit points — to six total points. Almost all of the Irish goals happened through individual efforts, as Wolak posted the only Notre Dame assist against stiff defense.

Despite those struggles, Notre Dame mostly matched the Eagles with strong defense. At the first quarter’s end, Boston College led 3-2 on goals from Rachel Clark, Kayla Martello and Belle Smith. Choma fired back late in the quarter, pulling the Irish within a goal.

The second quarter opened with 10 scoreless minutes, as Notre Dame senior goalie Lilly Callahan made four saves. Martello finally broke through with 4 minutes and 25 seconds remaining until halftime with her 52nd goal of the year. But senior attacker Mary Kelly Doherty, the hero of the March 16 game, answered just moments later to make the halftime score 4-3.

Coming out of the break, Wolak tied the game with her 53rd goal of the season. However, less than two minutes later, Andrea Reynolds and Boston College broke the deadlock for good. Emma LoPinto scored three goals in eight minutes between the end of the third quarter and the early part of the fourth, orchestrating a major surge from the Eagles. With 10 minutes remaining in regulation, Boston College had opened up a 9-5 lead.

Notre Dame wouldn’t let its first postseason run die easily, though. Ahern deposited her second goal of the night with 8:55 remaining, and freshman midfielder Kathryn Morrissey was quick to follow, narrowing the Boston College lead to 9-7. The Irish pressed on with their rally from there, but Eagles goalkeeper Shea Dolce made three saves to send Boston College to the championship game.

In that championship game, the Eagles would defeat Syracuse by a 15-8 score on Sunday.

Notre Dame now looks ahead to the NCAA Tournament, which begins Friday, May 10. The Irish will learn their first opponent and destination during the selection show at 9 p.m. Sunday, May 5.