Sam Apuzzo didn’t hang her head. She didn’t sulk. Still, it was evident that losing in the NCAA Division I women’s lacrosse championship game in consecutive years was taking its toll.
Her Boston College team lost to James Madison, 16-15, on Sunday at Stony Brook’s LaValle Stadium. But fourth-seeded BC might not have made it to this year’s final if not for the electrifying junior from West Babylon.
A Tewaaraton Award finalist for good reason, Apuzzo assisted on the tying and winning goals in an overtime victory over Stony Brook in the quarterfinals, then scored the go-ahead and game-sealing goals in a 15-13 win over Maryland in Friday’s semifinals. She had three goals, four assists and eight draw controls against James Madison.
“She’s set a standard of excellence, and I think she shows that in order to be truly successful, you have to be able to be dynamic,” Boston College coach Acacia Walker-Weinstein said. “You have to be able to score goals and play unselfishly and win draw controls.”
Apuzzo was named to the all-tournament team after a weekend that included a SportsCenter-worthy goal that proved to be the game-winner against top-seeded Maryland. She had 88 goals, 41 assists and 163 ground balls this season after establishing herself as a force with 80 goals as a sophomore.
Apuzzo will return next season to a Boston College team that again will have championship aspirations. Standout Kenzie Kent will play after redshirting her senior year to focus on hockey, and her return to the program could give the Eagles a ton of firepower.
In the eyes of Walker-Weinstein, Apuzzo’s teammates have rallied around her leadership in Kent’s absence.
“I think what she does, it teaches all of her teammates to try to be good at many different things and not just be one-dimensional,” Walker-Weinstein said. “Sam has taught a level of excellence for the team, and she’s very competitive. People will follow her and her lead and hopefully work harder next year.”
Apuzzo dazzled during BC’s run to the final, excelling as one of the nation’s leaders on the draw. Her craftiness and nearly unmatched speed make her nearly unmarkable for defenses.
Pregame introductions featured loud applause for each of Boston College’s seven Long Islanders, but no cheers were louder than those for Apuzzo.
After BC clinched a Final Four berth, Apuzzo said she was “excited to go back to Long Island.” She didn’t disappoint the family and friends in attendance, showcasing the skills that have her in the discussion for lacrosse’s Heisman Trophy. The winner will be announced Thursday.