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West Babylon’s Sam Apuzzo sets up tying, winning goals for BC

Babylon’s Kaileen Hart scores four goals in Boston College’s OT victory over Stony Brook.

Stony Brook's Mackenzie Burns (3) carries the ball

Stony Brook's Mackenzie Burns (3) carries the ball by Boston College's Dempsey Arsenault (18) and Sam Apuzzo (2) during the quarterfinal of the NCAA Women's Division 1 lacrosse game, Saturday, May 19, 2018, in Newton, Mass. Boston College defeated Stony Brook University 12-11 in double overtime to advance to the national semi-finals. Photo Credit: Newsday / ROBERT E KLEIN

NEWTON, Mass. — Sam Apuzzo, the driving force behind Boston College’s 12-11 overtime victory over Stony Brook on Saturday afternoon, is happy to come home.

The West Babylon product’s assist on Dempsey Arsenault’s winning goal sent the fourth-seeded Eagles (21-1) to the NCAA women’s lacrosse semifinals Friday at Stony Brook’s LaValle Stadium.

Boston College will play top-seeded Maryland and No. 2 North Carolina will play No. 3 James Madison, with the winners facing off at noon Sunday at LaValle Stadium for the NCAA championship.

“I’ve been wanting this for my whole life,” said Apuzzo, a junior Tewaaraton Award finalist who had a goal and two assists and was the primary reason behind BC’s 20-6 draw advantage. “A few years ago, I had seen Northwestern and Maryland play at Stony Brook when I was young, so being able to go back and play there is just so exciting. All my friends and family are going to come, so I’m really excited.”

Apuzzo rose to prominence this season on the heels of two-sport star Kenzie Kent’s decision to focus primarily on hockey. Kent lifted BC to the NCAA championship game last season, but her absence left a major role to be filled.

A handful of players stepped up, including Babylon’s Kaileen Hart (four goals against Stony Brook), but Apuzzo was a big key.

She has 81 goals and 37 assists for 118 points, third in the nation behind Stony Brook’s Kylie Ohlmiller (157) and Courtney Murphy (130).

“I think coming into this season, we weren’t sure what was going to happen with the year,” she said. “But preseason and the early season, we worked so hard for this. I think all the hard work that we’ve done is just paying off in this moment, which is so exciting. I’m excited to go back to Long Island.”

Apuzzo scored the game’s first goal exactly one minute into the action, but Stony Brook limited her individual impact on offense. She assisted on Tess Chandler’s tying goal with 3:39 remaining in regulation before assisting on Arsenault’s winner from just in front of the crease.

“Stony Brook’s really good,” she said. “They like to bait people to pass into the middle and just pick them off. We were just smart and patient, making sure we were making the right passes around the circle.”

Like so many others since the NCAA bracket was revealed, Apuzzo spoke of the quality of the two teams, specifically how many expected this game to take place on championship weekend.

“I think this was a great game. Could’ve been the national championship,” she said. “Both teams played like it was.”

But it will be Apuzzo and the Eagles who get the chance to play for a championship berth at LaValle. She’s coming home.

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