The rematch of last season’s NCAA Division I women’s lacrosse championship game lived up to expectations — and then some.
Helped by a flashy goal with 8:14 left by West Babylon’s Sam Apuzzo, fourth-seeded Boston College beat top-seeded Maryland, 15-13, on Friday night at Stony Brook’s LaValle Stadium. BC will face third-seeded James Madison for the national title at noon Sunday at LaValle.
With the score tied at 13, Tewaaraton Award finalist Apuzzo started behind the cage with defender Grace Griffin in her face but juked Griffin to the ground before rolling to the crease and firing a shot into the upper-right corner. She fell to the turf but quickly jumped to her feet and into her teammates’ arms.
Apuzzo won the next draw and scored again with 7:26 left to put BC ahead 15-13 — its first two-goal lead of the game.
“We’ve been working on dodging from behind this whole week, so when I got the ball, I just knew that was my job to do,” said Apuzzo, who had four goals and 10 draw controls. “After that goal, it definitely added to the momentum, because we were kind of rolling at that point.”
BC goalie Lauren Daly, who starred at Shoreham-Wading River, faced a flurry of shots and saved seven of them. Playing in front of her family and friends was special, but so was a win over Maryland.
“It was definitely really cool coming home to Long Island,’’ she said, “but I think to win that game anywhere would be really cool in front of anyone.”
Maryland won last year’s final, 16-13, and has won three of the last five titles. Still, the Terrapins couldn’t build any more than a one-goal lead in the first 20-plus minutes of the second half as BC’s Elizabeth Miller shut down Maryland’s Megan Whittle, a Tewaaraton finalist.
Maryland built a 6-2 lead, aided by Kali Hartshorn’s efforts in the draw circle against Apuzzo, a national leader in draw controls. But if Boston College has proved anything in the past week, it’s that it’s never out of a game. The Eagles trailed 11-8 late in the second half against Stony Brook in the quarterfinals last Saturday but stormed back to earn a 12-11 overtime win.
Apuzzo went to work on the draw and the Eagles scored five straight in just over five minutes to take a 7-6 lead.
BC coach Acacia Walker-Weinstein is still amazed by her star junior. “I think my favorite thing is she never goes away, really,” she said. “She was not playing well in the first half, and I said to her, ‘Listen, Sam, you’re born for this. This is what you were made for, this moment.’ She just never goes away. She came out and scored a couple quick goals, and she’s really a clutch player.”