BALTIMORE — For so much of Friday evening’s NCAA women’s lacrosse semifinal, Sam Apuzzo deferred.
The reigning Tewaaraton Award winner and West Babylon product was not avoiding the spotlight. Instead, she was waiting for her opportunity. Players in her position and with her skill set could forcibly impose their will, but Apuzzo leaned on her supporting cast to keep Boston College alive.
Then, she saw her moment.
Apuzzo bounced off her defender, switched the stick to her left side and fired past North Carolina goalkeeper Elise Hennessey, propelling the Eagles to a 15-14 double-overtime victory at Johns Hopkins’ Homewood Field.
Boston College will play in its third straight NCAA championship game but seeks its first title in program history. The Eagles will play top-seeded Maryland Sunday at noon.
“North Carolina’s defense is very strong,” said Apuzzo, whose goal came 1:12 into the second overtime. “They have really good [1-versus-1] defenders. My defender, Emma Trenchard, is a very strong defender, so I was just staying patient. I know my seven attackers around me were doing their job.
“When it was my turn, I kind of [did] what I had to do.”
Apuzzo, third in the nation in points, had just one goal and one assist until she scored the winner. With Kenzie Kent, Dempsey Arsenault and Apuzzo commanding so much of UNC’s attention, others stepped forward.
Sacred Heart’s Cara Urbank scored a team-high four goals, including consecutive tallies midway through the second half that put Boston College ahead 12-10.
But North Carolina responded, as a 3-0 run bookended by goals from Kara Klages gave UNC a 13-12 lead.
Arsenault and Jordan Lappin scored consecutively as Boston College retook control at 14-13, but Centereach’s Jamie Ortega scored the last of her five goals with 1:04 left in regulation, tying the game and sending it to overtime.
“UNC, they make us play our very best,” BC coach Acacia Walker-Weinstein said. “They’re an incredible team. Incredible coaches. Things fell in our direction today.”
Picking up from where it left off in its 15-13 ACC championship game win over the Eagles, the Tar Heels were the better team for the first 15 minutes. Five players scored in a 6-0 run to open the game, prompting Walker-Weinstein to switch goalies.
Cold Spring Harbor’s Abbey Ngai started her 18th straight game but didn’t make a save during UNC’s blistering start. The sophomore was pulled in favor of senior Lauren Daly, and the Shoreham-Wading River product didn’t disappoint.
She made seven saves and kick-started a 6-2 run to end the second half, cutting UNC’s lead to a manageable 8-6 at halftime.
“When you’re in the Final Four, you play every minute until the last minute,” Daly said. “Coming in when I did, the game wasn’t over yet.”
Walker-Weinstein said it was a “hard-line decision” by the coaching staff to move to Daly, who started every game last season.
“Lauren’s been in these big moments,” Walker-Weinstein said. “Abbey’s helped get us here. Together, the two of them have led us to a national championship game.”