In game that went back and forth throughout the night, Boston College women's lacrosse attacker Sam Apuzzo finally decided she had seen enough.
The junior Tewaaraton Award finalist scored a pair of goals, recorded two draw controls and scooped up a key ground ball during a second half stretch that lasted just over two minutes. Led by Apuzzo, the fourth-seeded Eagles took control of a game that had been tied seven times, and Boston College handed No. 1 seed Maryland a 15-13 defeat in the NCAA semifinals in Stony Brook, N.Y., May 25.
Maryland, which brought an 18-game winning streak to the Final Four, finished its season at 20-2 and fell short in its bid to capture a third championship in four seasons.
"It's tough to see this group's season end, I don't think any of us were ready for that. You never are," Terps head coach Cathy Reese said, per Maryland. "I'm just proud of what they've been able to accomplish this year. I’m proud of our senior class, sending them off with the victories and conference titles and national titles that they have. I’m proud of everything that this team has accomplished."
With the victory, Boston College (22-1) avenged a 16-13 loss to Maryland in last year's national championship game. It was the Eagles' first victory against the Terps in 14 tries. Boston College will take on third-seeded James Madison (21-1) May 27 in a title game that will produce a first-time national champion and just the sport's sixth different champion since 1991. The Terps claimed 12 titles during that span.
"I'm really excited about the team win tonight," Boston College head coach Acacia Walker-Weinstein, a former Maryland All-American, said during her postgame press conference. "I'm really proud of these girls. They work so hard every day. I told them at the beginning of the game that they were going to have to give it everything they had and play our most aggressive lacrosse game to beat Maryland, and I think they really delivered on that."
Walker-Weinstein was correct in her assessment of what it would take to beat the Terps. Maryland jumped out to a 6-2 lead before the Eagles rallied for five straight goals to pull in front, 7-6, on sophomore midfielder Cara Urbank's free-position goal with 8:20 left in the first half. Maryland junior midfielder Jen Giles (Mt. Hebron) answered with her 51st goal of the season 1:17 later to tie the game at 7.
After playing to an 8-8 deadlock through the contest's opening 30 minutes, the two teams combined for 10 goals in the next 10-plus minutes, with the Terps answering the Eagles four different times to even the score. The game was tied at 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13.
Freshman midfielder Grace Griffin (Liberty) scored on a jaw-dropping, no-look backhand shot to tie the game at 13 with 14:47 remaining, but she would fall victim to an equally skillful goal by Apuzzo with 8:14 left.
Apuzzo took the ball hard behind the goal moving to her left, planted and reversed direction. Griffin attempted to cut back to defend Apuzzo but got tangled in the net and fell to the turf, allowing Apuzzo to pop out front and place a shot just over the outreached stick of Maryland junior goalie Megan Taylor (Glenelg).
Apuzzo came up with the ensuing draw control and scored her fourth goal of the game with 7:26 remaining, going hard to her left and beating Taylor with a high laser despite being pressured by junior defender Julia Braig (St. Paul's).
She would control the next draw as well and pick up another ground ball after a Taylor save on senior attacker Kaileen Hart with 6:11 left. Junior defender Shelby Mercer (Century) got the ball back for the Terps with a forced turnover, but Maryland would miss two shots wide right in the final four minutes with possession turning over to Boston College both times.
Apuzzo and Terps senior attacker Megan Whittle (McDonogh) entered the game as the top two scorers remaining in the tournament, but Whittle was face-guarded most of the evening and only managed one goal on three shots. Apuzzo finished with four goals and an assist, but the Eagles were led by junior midfielder Dempsey Arsenault, who had three goals and two assists. Redshirt senior attacker Tess Chandler and Urbank each tallied three times for Boston College.
Giles paced the Terps with three goals and three assists, with sophomore attacker Kali Hartshorn adding four goals and an assist and senior attacker Taylor Hensh (Marriotts Ridge) recording three goals.
Taylor made several key saves in the second half to give Maryland hope, finishing with 13 stops on the evening. Junior Lauren Daly had seven saves for Boston College.
"This is so exciting," Walker-Weinstein, an Annapolis, Md., native, told ESPN. "I'm so proud and happy to see all the hard work pay off, and for all the fans who decided to come here and support the program, I'm just so happy."
This story was updated with Reese's quote.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Maryland Athletics